This year’s pilgrimage to Mecca has started. Arab News reports that Saudi officials have recorded over 1.75 million foreign pilgrims, but that the number attending who come from within Saudi Arabia — including foreigners resident in the Kingdom — is uncertain. Smuggling of pilgrims who have not obtained Haj permits appears to be a problem this year. Fake permits have also been problematic. Total attendance is put at around three million.

Over 1.75 m foreign pilgrims at Haj

JEDDAH: Interior Minister Prince Ahmed, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, said 1,752,932 foreign pilgrims have arrived for Haj this year, including 801,126 women (46 percent).

He said the number was 4 percent (77,968) less than that of last year.

He said the foreign pilgrims came from 189 countries.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal said nearly three million pilgrims had arrived in Mina and the process was completed successfully without any major incidents.

“The health condition of pilgrims is satisfactory,” he said.

More than 82,000 security officers have been deployed to ensure smooth Haj operation.

Asked about the number of domestic pilgrims, Prince Khaled said: “I cannot give you an exact number because unfortunately a large number of people enter the holy sites without Haj permits.”

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