First Haj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

Thousands expected to flock to the two holy cities
By Courtney Trenwith
Sun 08 Sep 2013 10:24 AM

The first Muslims have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage.

A group of 235 people arrived in Madinah from Goa, India on Saturday.

The oldest pilgrim was 82-years-old.

The group was met by a medical team as the MERS virus continues to infect the kingdom. Pilgrims also are known to suffer from heat exhaustion and stress during their journey.

The Haj is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, when Muslims travel to the two holy cities, Makkah and Medinah.

The number of visas for Haj and Umrah, performed in July-August, were significantly reduced this year as the Grand Mosque undergoes a major renovation.

Arab News reported there will be 193 flights to Madinah bringing in 60,800 pilgrims this year.

An even larger figure is expected at Makkah.

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