Mecca clocktower showcases astronomy | AFP

Visitors and tourists flock to the four-storey Clock Tower Museum filled with models and structures on astronomy and galaxies, and line up behind a metal fence overlooking the Kaaba, a black structure inside the Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world turn to pray, to take in the panoramic views of the mosque and the sprawling holy city. The Clock Tower is the main high-rise building in a complex of seven towers, comprising some 3,000 hotel rooms and apartments.

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Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba

Muslims worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. The hajj, expected to draw more than two million pilgrims to Mecca this year, represents a key rite of passage for Muslims and a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites.

Muslim worshippers on annual Hajj to Mecca

Pilgrims in Mecca are performing Tawaff – the ritual of walking around the Kaaba seven times in a counterclockwise direction. The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in their worship of the One God.

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