"Move along, nothing to see here ... except the holy artifacts you traveled thousands of miles for."
My dad told me that there used to be little police during the Hajj, but [now there are more] because of how many people go nowadays and possible threats."
The Grand Mosque has been taken over by terrorists before, who actually hid inside the Kaaba, while the holy city of Medina had attacks earlier this year. It's scary to be there, and the security needs to be at its best. Unfortunately, it can get a little too tight. That man at Omar's hotel who broke his wrist is lucky it didn't happen at the Hajj itself, or he might not have gotten medical treatment.
"People need to stop and find family members or those they are traveling with, but police will yell to get us moving and you're lost in a swirl of people looking for others they know," explained Omar. "There are many people who get lost or separated (everyone wearing almost the exact same thing doesn't help matters), and security seems to make it worse. I lost my dad a few times, and even though I'm over 20, I still felt a little afraid that I couldn't find him, because there are so many people and everyone dresses the same."
Fadi El Binni/Al Jazeera English
It's like Where's Waldo, except everyone is Waldo.
"I was yelled at by the police for stopping when I thought something sharp went into my foot, and again for staying at a holy site for too long. Mecca police are in no mood for anything. I sympathize, because I know it can't be easy to watch and direct thousands upon thousands of people every hour ... I also saw one of them deny someone from going into the city because he thought he wasn't a Muslim. The man being questioned only spoke English. Every time someone went up to translate, the police officer only said he would talk to him in Arabic."
It's gotten more intense, too. To avoid stampedes, Mecca is issuing bracelets to help find lost people, an additional 5,000 security cameras have been set up, and earlier this year, 100,000 Saudi troops were sent to the city when Mecca wound up with 1.5 million pilgrims at once. That's basically one New Mexico's worth of people, all in a single town, all on vacation. If alcohol were allowed, the whole place would have burned down by now.
Evan V. Symon is an interviewer, writer and interview finder with the Personal Experience team. Have an awesome job/experience you'd like to share? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
2016 is almost over. Yes the endless, rotten shit hurricane of a year which took away Bowie, Prince and Florence Henderson and gave us Trump, Harambe and the Zika virus is finally drawing to a close. So, to give this bitch a proper viking funeral, Jack O'Brien and the crew, which includes Dan O'Brien, Alex Schmidt, and comedian Caitlin Gill, are going to send out 2016 with Cracked's year in review in review. They'll rectify where every other year-in-review goes wrong by giving some much needed airtime to the positive stories from the 2016 and shedding light on the year's most important stories that got overlooked. Get your tickets here.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Hardcore Realities Of My Time As A Mormon Missionary and 5 Insane Lessons from My Christian Fundamentalist Childhood.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out 3 Foreign Countries That Just Don't Give A F#@%, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.