By Khalil Glick
MECCA (AA) – Saudi Arabia is currently hosting more than 800 foreign media personnel to cover this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, according to Saudi Information Minister Awad bin Saleh al-Awwad.
This year’s pilgrimage season is officially set to begin on Sunday evening.
Al-Awwad made the assertion while inspecting a series of information centers set up for pilgrims in the areas of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
According to the minister, preparations for this year’s pilgrimage are being covered by 151 media outlets from around the world in a multiplicity of languages.
At least 16 direct digital channels, he said, are also covering the preparations in six different languages around the clock.
Al-Awwad went on to note that his ministry had set up a number of media centers in Mecca — and at other holy sites — to facilitate coverage of pilgrimage-related activities.
Media personnel, he added, were being provided with all the technical services they require.
Last year, roughly 1.75 million Muslims visited Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, while another 6.53 million came for the Umrah, the non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage.
The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is considered a religious obligation for Muslims, who are expected to make the journey — if financially feasible — at least once in their lives.
Unlike the Hajj pilgrimage, which this year will take place from Aug. 19 to 24, Muslims can perform the Umrah at any time.