Obama’s Grandmother in Mecca for ‘Hajj’ Ceremony
Mecca, 25 Nov. (AKI)
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 Hussein 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.
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.
About two million Muslims converge on Mecca each year for the Hajj pilgrimage but Saudi officials were expecting fewer pilgrims this year due to the threat of the H1N1 virus known as swine flu.
Crowds of pilgrims have been converging on the holy city of Mecca in recent days, and started the Hajj rites on Wednesday.
At the weekend, Saudi health authorities said that four people attending the Hajj had died from the H1N1 virus but sought to play down the risk.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to attend at least once during their lives, provided they can afford it.
United Arab Emirates’ property tycoon Sulaiman Al Fahim is personally sponsoring Sarah Obama’s trip.