Around two million Muslim pilgrims on Friday converged on Saudi Arabia's Mina Valley outside Mecca to begin the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
The pilgrims that came from all over the world will spend a day and night in prayer before setting out for Mt. Arafat located some 12 kilometers (around 8 miles) from Mecca on Saturday morning for the spiritual journey's climax.
They will return to Mina after spending the night in the Muzdalifah, half-way between Arafat and Mina.
They will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat al-Aqaba and sacrifice animals to mark the four-day Eid al-Adha which begins Sunday.
The Hajj ritual is the “fifth pillar” of the Islamic faith, one that must be performed by Muslims -- if financially viable -- at least once in their lives.
In a news conference, Mansur Al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has completed all preparations "to enable Muslims to perform this duty (Hajj) with ease, tranquility, security and safety".
Al-Turki said all logistical operations and transportations are efficiently functioning and traffic flows are smoothly working in the ways to the holy places.
* Ahmed al-Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.