The area around Islam’s holiest site is bustling with pilgrims who are all in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform their hajj pilgrimage.
It is estimated that more than 1.5 million are already in the city, and thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming days.
People have traveled from far and wide; some by plane, others by train, coaches or ferries.
The price of going on the hajj can be costly, with many pilgrims saving for a lifetime and spending thousands of dollars to perform the pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam.
For some people traveling from Britain, for example, the cost of a hajj travel and accommodation package can cost between 2,500- to 6,000 pounds sterling, the equivalent of $4,000 - $9,600.
But even for those who don't need to travel so far, the price of hajj is still expensive.
“The cost of hajj is around $4,000 and $1,000 for expenses for the household, food and drink,” said al-Hayan, a pilgrim from Morocco.
Due to the high costs, some people like Egyptian Rajab Abdullah save up for years.
''For 28 years, I’ve been working, and I’ve worked hard. But I had to come and do my hajj, I had to, I had to,” he said.
Some people are willing to spend vast amounts to secure a comfortable travel and accommodation package. Hajj packages vary from $5,000 to $27,000.
Many pilgrims are fortunate enough to have their hajj expenses paid for by other people, as an act of charity. Some countries like Egypt also offer hajj packages at government-subsidized rates in order to make the pilgrimage accessible to more people.
Every able bodied Muslim with the financial means is expected to perform hajj once in his or her lifetime.
Although revenues from pilgrims are small compared to the massive wealth of Saudi Arabia because of its oil and gas resources, the Riyadh government is keen to develop non-energy sectors such as religious tourism.
Local gold jeweler tradesmen do well during peak hajj season.
In many Arab and Muslim countries, pilgrims are expected to bring back costly gold gifts for friends and family members. Many pilgrims are under pressure to splurge on gold items to take back home.
Jewelry shops line the shopping malls, selling gold bangles, necklaces and earrings.
Despite the high gold prices, traders say people are still snapping up jewelry made from the precious metal.
Hajj starts on the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhul Hijja, which falls this year on Friday. Most pilgrims come earlier to visit the holy mosques in Mecca and nearby Medina, where the Prophet Mohammad was buried over 1,400 years ago.
The Grand Mosque is the main attraction for over six million pilgrims who enter Mecca throughout the year, of which 2.5 million to 3 million pilgrims visit the city during the hajj.
Among the rites they must perform during the three-day pilgrimage, pilgrims must walk seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the center of the Grand Mosque, pray at nearby Mount Arafat and ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three walls.
Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen