Muslim pilgrims circle Kaaba in Mecca as Hajj concludes

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Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia performed the Tawaf -- the Hajj ritual of walking in circles around the Kaaba -- on Sunday as the Hajj ended at Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

While Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid al-Adha religious holiday, Saudi Arabia welcomed up to one million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, this year.

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Pilgrims from abroad returned for Hajj after two years of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which authorities allowed only Saudi residents to perform the pilgrimage.

That is down from some 2.6 million pilgrims who visited Islam’s two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina for Hajj in 2019, and around19 million others who attended Umrah, a minor pilgrimage that can be performed at any time through the year.

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