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Tue 1 Nov 2011 12:15 PM

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More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

Gulf kingdom has urged a calm hajj amid the Arab Spring protests

More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
More than 1.5 million Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, state media said Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
The hajj is the world's largest annual human assembly which takes place every year, and is due to peak on Saturday as pilgrims gather in the plain of Mount Arafat, outside Makkah in the western region of the desert kingdom. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
A general view shows pilgrims arriving in Makkah's Grand Mosque for prayer. Makkah is located 73km away from Jeddah in a narrow valley. Named the holy city, it is the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed and a site of the composition of the Koran. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
Though the city's population is only around 1.7m, its visitors more than double every year during the hajj. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are seen praying at the Grand Mosque. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
State news agency SPA said the number of pilgrims who had arrived from abroad had reached 1.575m. Saudi Minister of Hajj Fuad al-Farsi said a total of some 1.8m Muslims from other countries were expected to arrive this year, in addition to between 700,000 and 800,000 pilgrims from within the kingdom. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
Hajj rituals will begin on Friday, the eighth day in the Muslim lunar calendar month of Dhul hijjah, or the month of hajj. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
According to religious law, the hajj must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim at least once during his or her lifetime if they can avoid it. (AFP/Getty Images)
More than 1.5 million pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia
In previous years, the sheer number of crowds during the hajj has led to tramplings and other deaths. The Saudi government has introduced some measures to try and reduce the risk of danger. (AFP/Getty Images)