Qatar says Saudi blocking hajj access to its citizens

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Friday concluded the transportation of Nigeria's pilgrims to this year's Hajj with the arrival of about 190, making up 37,746 pilgrims now in Saudi Arabia. King Salman's official title is the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques", at Mecca and Medina.

But for hajj, which takes pilgrims across Makkah and Mina - two cities in western Saudi Arabia home to the holiest sites of Islam - the pods were also inspired by the rising popularity of car- and bike-sharing.

Abdullah Al-Kaabi of the Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saudi Arabia had shut down an electronic system used by travel agencies to obtain permits for pilgrims from Qatar.

After spending the night in the massive valley of Mina, the pilgrims head to Mount Arafat, some 20km east of Mecca, for the pinnacle of the pilgrimage.

The Haj is a religious pilgrimage for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by all who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.

Men don seamless white clothes and women wear loose garments and must refrain from wearing make-up and jewellery.

The ministry has also urged the pilgrims to follow the scheduled provided to them to avoid the dangers caused by overcrowding.

While following a route the Prophet Muhammad once walked, the rites of hajj are believed to ultimately trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.

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The Hajj brings together Muslims from all over the world, regardless of culture, ethnicity, sect or class. During the three-day Eid, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.

Hajj is a tough, but very important and rewarding journey for Muslim pilgrims.

The kingdom has spent billions of dollars of its vast oil revenues on security and safety measures, particularly in Mina, where some of the hajj's deadliest incidents have occurred. Tehran had temporarily suspended sending its citizens to hajj following a 2015 stampede that left around 2,300 pilgrims dead, including hundreds of Iranians.

The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed and 934 injured has not changed since only two days afterward.

The potential for disease spreading among pilgrims, who spend five days in close quarters, often eating outside and sleeping on the ground near holy sites, is a perennial concern.

The accountant traveled to Saudi Arabia from Turkey where he has lived for five years since fleeing Aleppo in Syria.

Meanwhile, a Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iran-backed Shiite rebels drags on without an end in sight. The rebels have fired over 150 ballistic missiles on the kingdom during a conflict that has seen Saudi airstrikes hit markets and hospitals, killing civilians.

Islam is now the world´s fastest-growing religion, according to the Pew Research Center, which says the number of Muslims in the world is expected to rise from 1.8 billion in 2015 to three billion in 2060. "I hope this year would be a good one for the Islamic nations", said Ahmad Mohammad, an Egyptian pilgrim. That was a feeling shared by Jordanian pilgrim Jehad Hussein.

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