A Muslim pilgrim prays on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali
Two million Muslims gathered at Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat on Saturday amid the summer heat to atone for their sins and seek God's forgiveness as part of the annual haj pilgrimage.
Pilgrims clad in white robes signifying a state of purity spent the night in a sprawling encampment around the hill.
Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn. Some carried food, carpets for camping and fans to keep cool as temperatures rose towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Egyptian merchant Ramadan al-Jeedi said he was grateful to accompany his mother after his father died last year.
"It's the greatest feeling, to feel that God the almighty chose us to be in this place," he said.
Saudi Arabia has said more than two million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.
Among them are 200 survivors and relatives of victims of terror attacks on two New Zealand mosques in March.
The pilgrims will spend the day on Mount Arafat. By sunset they will move to the rocky plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at Jamarat on Sunday, which marks the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.