An aerial view shows a part of the Saudi holy city of Mecca on September 2, 2017, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. / AFP / KARIM SAHIB
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MINA, Saudi Arabia: With global oil prices flailing, Saudi Arabia is turning to another natural resource: billions of dollars gained from religious tourism as the kingdom hosts the annual hajj pilgrimage.Saudi authorities have reported 2.35 million Muslims are participating in this year's hajj, the pilgrimage to the western Saudi Arabian city of Mecca that forms one of the five pillars of Islam.Of those, around 1.75 million pilgrims from 168 countries arrived from abroad, according to the state-run SPA news agency.The Vision 2030 plan aims to draw six million pilgrims to hajj annually.In September 2015, a construction crane crashed over pilgrims congregating at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, leaving more than 100 people dead.
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