Latest Mecca News

Muslim worshippers offer Eid al-Adha prayer at a park as mosques are limited for ten people following the government's measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, in the mixed Arab Jewish city of Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 31, 2020. This is the first Feast of Sacrifice since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. The major Muslim holiday, at the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, is observed around the world by believers and commemorates prophet Abraham's pledge to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Final days of hajj and Eid festival impacted by coronavirus

Jul. 31, 2020 7:01 PM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Small groups of people performed one of the final rites of the Islamic hajj on Friday as Muslims worldwide marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday amid a global pandemic that has impacted nearly every aspect of this year's pilgrimage and celebrations. The last days...

A pigeon flies over the site of the Grand Mosque that is empty due to the coronavirus prevention procedures, on the first day of the annual hajj that normally draws millions of faithful, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. A unique and scaled-down hajj started on Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Pilgrims pray on peak day of hajj in shadow of coronavirus

Jul. 30, 2020 5:10 AM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Masked pilgrims arrived Thursday at Mount Arafat, a desert hill near Islam’s holiest site, to pray and repent on the most important day of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over every aspect...

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, as they observe social distancing to protect themselves against the coronavirus, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 29, 2020 During the first rites of hajj, Muslims circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise seven times while reciting supplications to God, then walk between two hills where Ibrahim's wife, Hagar, is believed to have run as she searched for water for her dying son before God brought forth a well that runs to this day. (AP Photo)

Islamic holiday Eid comes as families grieve virus victims

Jul. 29, 2020 11:06 AM EDT

For Marwa Conelly, the upcoming Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday was supposed to be extra celebratory this year — she was looking forward to getting engaged around that time. Then she lost her father to the coronavirus, and less than 24 hours later her mother, who died unaware her husband, whom she had known...

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, as they keep social destination to protect themselves against the coronavirus ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. During the first rites of hajj, Muslims circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise seven times while reciting supplications to God, then walk between two hills where Ibrahim's wife, Hagar, is believed to have run as she searched for water for her dying son before God brought forth a well that runs to this day. (AP Photo)

Very different, symbolic hajj in Saudi Arabia amid virus

Jul. 29, 2020 8:39 AM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Muslim pilgrims, donning face masks and moving in small groups after days in isolation, began arriving at Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Wednesday for the start of a historically unique and scaled-down hajj experience reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic. The...

General view showing the Grand Mosque, at the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Monday, July 27, 2020 ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage. Anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo)

Technology infuses ancient hajj rites tailored for pandemic

Jul. 28, 2020 8:40 PM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The vast, white-marble floors surrounding Islam’s holiest site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, would normally be packed with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world the day before the hajj. On Tuesday, however, only a few officials and workers...

A man burns incense as the area around the Kaaba, the square structure in the Great Mosque, toward which believers turn when praying, is prepared for pilgrims, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, late Sunday, July 26, 2020. Anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year due to the virus pandemic. (Saudi Ministry of Media via AP)

Pilgrims arrive in Mecca for downsized hajj amid pandemic

Jul. 27, 2020 10:09 AM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Muslim pilgrims have started arriving in Mecca for a drastically scaled-down hajj, as Saudi authorities balance the kingdom's oversight of one of Islam's key pillars and the safety of visitors in the face of a global pandemic. The hajj, which begins on Wednesday, normally...

VIRUS DIARY: In Saudi Arabia, a photographer finds new focus

Jul. 9, 2020 9:40 AM EDT

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — I moved to Saudi Arabia from Egypt last year, eager to photograph a national awakening that was once unimaginable in a country so beholden to ultraconservative mores. Permission to have fun had been suddenly granted. It jolted this nation of 34 million — almost half of...

FILE - In this March 7, 2020 file photo, workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, over fears of the new coronavirus, the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Guidelines were announced Monday, July 6, 2020 as Saudi Arabia gets ready for the 1,000 or so pilgrims that will be allowed to perform the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca later this month. The experience will be unlike any before which usually draws some 2.5 million people. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

New at Saudi hajj: Bottled holy water, sterilized pebbles

Jul. 7, 2020 1:40 PM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia has issued guidelines for about 1,000 pilgrims who will be allowed to perform the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca later this month, an experience that will be unlike any before because of the coronavirus pandemic. The pilgrims will only be able to drink holy water...

FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2019 file photo taken with slow shutter speed, Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, durning the hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia says this year’s hajj will not be canceled, but that due to the coronavirus only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the major Muslim pilgrimage. The kingdom said Monday, June 22, 2020 that only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the hajj.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Saudi Arabia: Hajj will see at most 'thousands' due to virus

Jun. 23, 2020 7:35 AM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Saudi official said Tuesday that the hajj pilgrimage, which usually draws up to 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world, will only see at the most a few thousand pilgrims next month due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The kingdom's Hajj Minister...

FILE - In this March 7, 2020 file photo, workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia after authorities emptied Islam's holiest site for sterilization over fears of the new coronavirus. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, June 22, 2020 this year’s hajj will not be canceled, but that due to the coronavirus only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage that traditionally draws around 2 million people from around the world to Mecca once a year. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Saudi Arabia to hold 'very limited' hajj due to virus

Jun. 22, 2020 4:38 PM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that because of the coronavirus only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage that traditionally draws around 2 million Muslims from around the world. The decision comes after weeks of...