A few items of note:
This year’s Hajj has been marked by rare torrential rains. This is causing some problems with logistics but should rightly be seen as a minor miracle instead of just an inconvenience. There are amazing photos out there of past floods which really give meaning to the old adage, “when it rains, it pours” – especially in a desert.
Among the pilgrims at Hajj this year, is President Barack Obama’s grandmother from Kenya:
The grandmother of US president Barack Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the ‘Hajj’ or Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, a Saudi daily said on Wednesday. Sarah Obama, 87, is being accompanied by a nephew and Obama’s cousin, Omran.
On Wednesday Sarah Obama was in the valley of Mina with an African delegation, according to the Saudi daily Okaz.
[Sarah] Obama, the mother of the American president’s father, lives in a village in Kenya and is one of the many guests of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.
Also, Al Jazeera has a Hajj portal up, driven in part by social networking and new media. They are really pushing the envelope of inovation in journalism and distribution here, one of the reasons why ALJ producer Mohamed Nanabhay (@mohamed) has been nominated for a Brass Crescent Award in the category of “Best Tweeter”. Check out this great blog post by ALJ correspondent Omar Chatriwala about arrival in Mina and summarizing the pilgrims’ activities today and tomorrow.
And speaking of Mina, here’s an aerial view of the tent city on Google Maps.
(Speaking of the Brass Crescent Awards – voting ends tomorrow so go vote right away if you haven’t!)