Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq al Rabiah says all Hajj pilgrims are now welcome to Islam's holiest cities of Mecca and Medina this year after numbers were drastically curtailed in 2020 due to Covid-19.
"Two deaths have been recorded so far," Mecca regional government says, after heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia.
It is acceptable to perform Umrah on behalf of deceased Muslims but this does not apply to non-Muslims like the queen.
Saudi Arabia is investing in Artificial Intelligence, setting up robots with touchscreens to help pilgrims navigate the Hajj process, learn about weekly schedules at mosques, as well as provide religious edicts.
Gil Tamary of Israel's Channel 13 was in Jeddah covering US President Joe Biden's visit but flouted rules and entered Islam’s holiest city, filming what his channel calls "an important journalistic accomplishment".
Eid al Adha, the feast of the sacrifice that begins on Saturday, marks the end of this year's Hajj.
This year's pilgrimage marks the largest since the virus struck, although the attendance by 1 million worshippers remains less than half of the pre-pandemic influx.
Muslims begin the first day of rites at Islam's holiest site as the Hajj pilgrimage reaches attendance numbers nearing pre-pandemic years.
One million fully vaccinated Muslims are set to take part in this year's Hajj pilgrimage, the largest number since the start of the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia will welcome one million people, including 850,000 from abroad, for the Hajj pilgrimage after two years of curtailed numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A group from Indonesia landed in the city of Medina and was set to travel south to the holy city of Mecca in the coming weeks to prepare for the Hajj next month.
Riyadh has expanded the Islamic pilgrimage number in the country to one million compared to last year's 60,000 domestic participants.
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