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Traffic jams as Haj pilgrims converge on Mina

ROUGH CUT ONLY (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Traffic jams formed on the road from Mecca to Mina on Wednesday, the first day of this year's Haj as the Muslim faithful packed vehicles heading for the small village where they will spend the first night of the annual pilgrimage. The Haj is an annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to Mecca with the intention of performing religious rites as taught by the Prophet Mohammad to his followers 14 centuries ago. It is is mandatory once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it and is considered the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Omar Hassunah, a U.S. citizen of Jordanian origin, was happy to be there despite the traffic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. CITIZEN OF JORDANIAN ORIGIN, OMAR HASSUNAH SAYING: "It's amazing, man, the best day of my life, actually, the best day of my life, for the sake of Allah, you know, the haj is one of the most important things you need to do in your life, you know." Some 1.7 million foreign pilgrims have so far arrived in Saudi Arabia.

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