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Covid-19 pandemic transforms hajj in Mecca and future of the pilgrimage

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MECCA (SAUDI ARABIA) : Tens of thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam's holiest site in Mecca on Sunday, but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the coronavirus takes its toll on the hajj for a second year running.

What once drew some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from across the globe, the hajj pilgrimage is now almost unrecognizable in scale.

The pared down hajj of this year and last due to the COVID-19 outbreak not only impacts the ability of people outside Saudi Arabia to fulfill the Islamic obligation but also the billions of dollars annually that Saudi Arabia draws from being custodian of its holy sites.

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