Pilgrims gather in Mecca for prayers on first day of hajj

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Pilgrims gather in Mecca for prayers on first day of hajj

Pilgrims gathered in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on Thursday for prayers on the first day of hajj — a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime.

Saudi Arabia is expected to receive one million Muslims this year to attend the hajj pilgrimage, after two years of a scaled-down hajj restricted to Saudi residents.