Muslim pilgrims perform 'Tawaf' as haj nears end

STORY: While Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid al-Adha religious holiday, Saudi Arabia expected to welcome up to one million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, this year.

Pilgrims from abroad returned for haj after two years of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the authorities allowed only Saudi residents to perform the pilgrimage.

That is down from some 2.6 million pilgrims who visited Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina for haj in 2019, and some 19 million others who attended umrah, a minor pilgrimage that can be performed at any time through the year.