Saudi Arabia is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 but officials are still keen to go ahead with Hajj.
Saudi Arabia is expected to decide next week whether Hajj will go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual pilgrimage sees 2.5 million Muslims, including around 25,000 from Britain, travel to Mecca to attend prayers at the Masjid al Haram, gather on Mount Arafat and sleep under the stars on the plains of Muzdalifah.
One of five pillars of Islam, Hajj is often described as “a journey of a lifetime” and Muslims are required to perform it at least once, providing they are physically fit and able to afford it.
The Saudi government is understood to be keen to go ahead with this year’s event, which is due to start on 28 July.
Not only does it provide the country with immense influence and prestige among Muslims, but it also generates nearly £5bn in revenue annually.
After easing lockdown measures at the end of May, Saudi Arabia is now seeing a second wave of coronavirus and this year’s pilgrimage is widely expected to be cancelled – a first in its 90-year history – or dramatically down-scaled.
During the annual Hajj pilgrimage on April 15, 1997, a massive fire ripped t…