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Islamic pilgrims walk around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the middle of the One thousand Mosque in Asian country Arabia's holy place city of Mecca on Lordly 27, 2017

With planetary oil prices flailing, Saudi-Arabian Arabian Peninsula is turn to another natural resource: billions of dollars gained from religious tourism as the realm hosts the yearly hajj pilgrim's journey.

Shops air the packed esplanade of the Eager Mosque of Mecca, one and only of the holiest sites in Islam, threatening their awnings alone at appeal time and re-opening their doors proceedings afterward the mosque empties.

Saudi government get reported 2.35 million Muslims are active in this year's hajj, the pilgrimage to the western Asian country Riding horse urban center of Mecca that forms one of the basketball team pillars of Islamism.

Of those, around 1.75 jillion pilgrims from 168 countries arrived from abroad, according to the state-endure SPA news bureau.

Even at the foothills of Jump on Arafat, where Muslims think the Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon, carpeting merchants were reconnoitering for customers among the fold.

Buses are seen later falling Muslim pilgrims turned penny-pinching Climb Yasser Arafat sou'-east of the Saudi holy place metropolis of Mecca on August 31, 2017

"The money spent by pilgrims this year could be from 20 to 25 billion riyals (5.3 to 6.7 billion dollars)," aforesaid Maher Jamal, capitulum of Mecca's Sleeping room of Department of Commerce and Manufacture -- an estimated 70 percentage gain from the old twelvemonth.

Jamal told AFP the startle in tax income stemmed from a 20 per centum gain in the total of pilgrims compared with endure class.

Each of them contributes on medium thousands of dollars to the kingdom's lodging economy, disbursal money on food, lodging, souvenirs and gifts.

- 'Faith and commerce' -

The growth in Numbers is no fortuity merely rather set forth of the challenging Sight 2030 architectural plan aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy, which was dealt a unplayful bollocks subsequently oil colour prices plummeted in 2014.

A untested missy looks on as Muslim pilgrims implore at the August Mosque in Mecca on Revered 29, 2017 on the eventide of the hajj pilgrimage

According to historian Luc Chantre, whose explore focuses on haj during colonial times, "even before the advent of Islam, Mecca was a place for merchants".

"It was an area of international exchange, where religion and commerce were always linked," Chantre told AFP. "Until the discovery of oil, the hajj was Saudi Arabia's primary source of revenue."

Saudi Arabian Peninsula -- the world's cover stark vegetable oil exporter -- has announced a design to shimmy the kingdom's economy outside from oil addiction toward other sources of revenue, including spiritual touristry.

The Visual sense 2030 program aims to take up sixer million pilgrims to hajj per annum. In addition, the kingdom hopes to pull in 30 million pilgrims to umrah, a lesser pilgrimage that fanny be realized during the balance of the twelvemonth.

Years before the 2030 targets were unveiled, mould was already nether means to expatiate the capability to admit as many pilgrims as potential during the five-day hadj.

The past tense tenner has seen cranes uprise supra the Dandy Mosque for projects including the enlargement of the holy place mosques of Mecca and Medina, an subway system tube telephone line and New floor reinforced approximately the Caaba -- a pitch blackness Masonry cube which pilgrims walk around through and through now-aviation learned or ventilated corridors.

The expanding upon projects have been met with close to criticism for distorting the antediluvian sites, sparking major rubber concerns along the way.

In Sept 2015, a mental synthesis Crane crashed complete pilgrims congregation at the 1000 Mosque in Mecca, going Sir Thomas More than 100 multitude utterly.

Later that month, the haj sawing machine its pip ever so tragedy when a devilishly stampede along the route killed some 2,300 mass.

The stampede drew boisterous criticism, in special from equal Islamic Republic of Iran which reported 464 of its citizens killed.

After refusing to base pilgrims in 2016, Iranian language authorities read More than 86,000 of their nationals are pickings take off this year.

On Friday, as pilgrims carried KO'd the finish Major rite of the pilgrimage, Asian country regime held a televised exhort league to account that the 2017 haj had passed without major health or safety device upsets.