Riyadh, 30 Jul (efe-epa).- The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was celebrated by a select number of Muslims this year wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.
Just over 1,000 worshippers ascended the sacred Mount Arafat on Thursday amid strict health measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
From dawn, hundreds of pilgrims left their hotels, underwent temperature checks and boarded buses to take them to the sacred site, where Muslims believe the prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon.
Normally around 2.5 million Muslims from around the world flock to Mecca and Medina for the week-long ritual.
Hajj is one of five pillars of Islam and every Muslim who is physically and financially able to is obliged to undertake the journey at least once in their lifetime.
This year, groups of 50 worshippers were led by guides, who have been tasked with ensuring compliance with pandemic measures, to the Namira Mosque beside Mount Arafat to pray together.
Inside the mosque, which has a capacity of more than 300,000 people, around 1,000 faithful took up positions a meter and a half away from each other to listen to the noon sermon.
Each person had to bring their own prayer rug and Mecca authorities provided them with disinfectant, gloves and masks to perform the ritual in compliance with the coronavirus restrictions.
The imam gave a speech which was simultaneously translated into nine languages with his mask lowered to the chin so that the congregation would not miss a word of the sermon before the noon prayer.
Saudi Arabian authorities have put a limit on the number of people who can perform Hajj this year, with a ban on overseas visitors.