This year’s Hajj was always going to be different. Early into Coronavirus lockdown, images began spreading of Mecca and Medina (Islam’s holiest sites) completely empty for the first time in centuries.
With Hajj back on, albeit with strict social distancing guidelines, this year’s pilgrims got to experience the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Mecca marginally empty, and access to the Kaaba within easy reach.
In total, around 10,000 pilgrims were expected this year (a stark contrast from the two million that normally visit the holy site during Hajj). With only Saudi residents permitted to enter the country, every participating pilgrim had to also undergo numerous safety checks such as virus tests before arriving in Mecca, as well as frequent temperature checks, with face masks mandatory throughout at all times.
As we’re so used to seeing images of dense shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, socially distanced Hajj is one for the history books. These are some of the best photos to come from this year’s pilgrimage.