Saudi Arabia said the number of pilgrims ranged this year between 3.16 to 3.65 millions, blaming the inaccuracy on the enormous number of unregistered pilgrims. (AFP)
By Al Arabiya With Agencies
Al Arabiya with AgenciesHajj 2012 was one of the most successful Muslim pilgrimage seasons despite the enormous number of close to 4 million pilgrims, said on Sunday Saudi Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Governor of Mecca Region and Chairman of Central Hajj Committee .
In a press conference held in Mecca, the prince said the number of pilgrims ranged this year between 3.16 to 3.65 millions, blaming the inaccuracy on the enormous number of unregistered pilgrims.
This huge number of unregistered pilgrims has caused many problems for the hajj organizing committee, he said.
He pointed out that there were more than 120,000 security men had been mobilized to provide services for pilgrims, in addition to 10,000 vehicles, 25 civil defense helicopters and public security 20 helicopters operated by 360 pilots and technicians, as well as 30,000 surveillance cameras, 100 roving security patrols, and 200 security centers.
Each able-bodied Muslim is required to make the hajj once in a lifetime, as it is one of Islam’s five pillars. All male pilgrims must wear seamless white garments of terrycloth and seamless shoes to show the equality among Muslims.
Saudi authorities have spent billions of dollars in recent years improving hajj infrastructure to avoid of stampedes and accidents.
Hundreds of cameras and other monitoring devices are fixed around the main sites of the hajj, including the Grand Mosque, Mount Arafat and al-Jamarat Bridge, to monitor crowd levels.
At al-Jamarat Bridge, the authorities built extensive new facilities to ease the flow of pilgrims seeking to hurl pebbles at three pillars representing the devil.
They replaced the pillars with long walls and built a multi-story bridge around them, creating far more space for the pilgrims to stand on the bridge levels and perform the rite.