Nearly 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims started Monday to gather on Mount Arafat and in its surrounding plain on the peak day of the hajj. By 5:00 am tens of thousands of pilgrims had already set off from their camps in the valley of Mina, some 10 kilometres northwest of Arafat.
The gathering in the plain of Arafat symbolises the climax of the hajj pilgrimage which began Sunday.
According to AFP, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz on Sunday put the number of pilgrims from abroad at a record 1.8 million, while some 200,000 permits had been given to local pilgrims, including Saudis and pilgrims from Gulf states.
But tens of thousands of unauthorised pilgrims had by Sunday poured into the valley.