from FaithWorld:

Russian Muslims ask Moscow to lobby Saudis for increased haj quota to Mecca

By Reuters Staff
July 5, 2011

(Muslims attend Friday prayers under a snowfall at the Central Mosque in Almaty February 5, 2010/Shamil Zhumatov)

from FaithWorld:

Builders flock to Mecca to tap into Muslim pilgrimage boom

By Reuters Staff
June 9, 2011

(Grand Mosque in Mecca surrounded by new construction, November 19, 2010/Fahad Shadeed)

from FaithWorld:

Saudi Arabia less rigid with Muslims during haj

November 18, 2010

haj (Photo: Haj pilgrims arrive to cast stones at pillars symbolising Satan in Mena, November 16, 2010/Mohammed Salem)

Saudi Arabia's religious police keep such a low profile during the haj, it's hard to imagine that you are in Islam's holiest city.

from FaithWorld:

Haj pilgrims flock to Mount Arafat to beg forgiveness

November 15, 2010

arafat 1 (Photo: Haj pilgrims at the Plains of Arafat, 15 Nov 2010/Mohammed Salem)

Millions of Muslims gathered around Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Mohammad delivered his last sermon, to beg for God's forgiveness on Monday, the spiritual climax of the annual haj pilgrimage. Pilgrims flocked mostly on foot to Arafat, a rocky outcrop in a dusty plain a few kilometers away from Mecca, to pray until sunset. They set up tents where they could, squatted on the side of the road in shelters or stayed at the nearby Namira mosque.

from FaithWorld:

Saudi Arabia opens Chinese-built haj pilgrimage train

November 14, 2010

haj 2Hoping to decrease accidents and boost tourism, Saudi has built a railway line to improve transport for millions of Muslims who flock to the kingdom on the annual haj and move en masse from one holy site to another. At least 2.5 million pilgrims are expected to perform the haj, which began on Sunday. One of the world's biggest religious gatherings, it has been marred in the past by stampedes, accidents and political demonstrations.

from FaithWorld:

At least 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims begin haj

November 14, 2010

haj 1 (Photo: Pilgrims at Mena, near Mecca, November 14, 2010/Mohammed Salem)

At least 2.5 million Muslims began the annual haj pilgrimage on Sunday, heading to an encampment near the holy city of Mecca to retrace the route taken by the Prophet Mohammad 14 centuries ago.

from FaithWorld:

Mecca goes upmarket but commercialism unnerves some Saudis

November 12, 2010

meccaSitting in the marble lobby of a luxury hotel in Mecca, Moroccan bank director Mohammad Hamdosh gets a breather from the cacophony of pilgrims bustling around the Grand Mosque in Islam's holiest city. Millions have flocked to the city in Saudi Arabia for the annual haj pilgrimage, a duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. But some can afford more than others, and a controversial construction boom is catering to their needs.

from FaithWorld:

Mecca hopes to revive pilgrim tourism during haj

November 3, 2010

mecca (Photo: Muslims shop outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, September 15, 2009/Fahad Shadeed)

Rashed Abdullah displays Oriental perfumes on a glass table to late-night shoppers in his small shop in Mecca ready for what he hopes will be a sales bonanza during this month's haj pilgrimage. He is confident of attracting customers after fears of a swine flu outbreak kept many away last year.

from FaithWorld:

Mecca Mean Time? World’s biggest clock ticks in Islam’s holiest city

August 12, 2010

clock saudi 1

A giant clock on a skyscraper in Islam's holiest city Mecca began ticking on Wednesday at the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, amid hopes by Saudi Arabia that it will become the Muslim world's official timekeeper.

from FaithWorld:

Sonorous black Saudi cleric rescinds objection to fatwa against singing

By Reuters Staff
July 29, 2010

saudi singerAn imam whose voice helped him become the first black Saudi to lead prayers at Mecca's Grand Mosque said he was wrong to speak against a fatwa prohibiting singing, in the latest spat between reformist and conservative clerics in the kingdom.