Growing up, I have always followed the journey of the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca with interest. These people, whom we call "hujjaj" or pilgrims, come from all over the world to express their devotion to God and preform one of Islam's main pillars.
I still remember the year my parents went to Hajj for the first time. I was a small child. My siblings and I were glued to the TV screen, naively searching for their faces among the tremendous crowd.
Such magnificent scenes have always put me in awe. People come together as one to form the largest annual gathering in the world. They also wear the same clothes (especially the men) and perform the same set of rituals.
I have always anticipated the day that I would walk in their shoes. That day finally came this year and now I join people from all over the world to perform Hajj in Mecca.
Today, I am one of the Muslim pilgrims. I am one of the people lucky enough to undertake a journey not only to Mecca, but also into their own hearts and souls. I am one of the people who gets the opportunity to perform the rituals that Prophet Mohammad performed centuries ago. I am one of the blessed ones who got to experience the spirituality of such rare occasion. And for that, I am deeply grateful.
There are some challenges, of course. The weather is hot at this time of the year and one has to walk for hours. The great number of people makes it difficult to move from one place to another. But these challenges are nothing compared to the beautiful feelings we are experiencing, and the rewards we are expecting.
Efforts by the Saudi authorities should be praised. Walking by, I have seen many members of the police protecting the pilgrims. They are ready to answer questions and lead people to their destination. There are many installed fans spraying water across the pathway to Al Jamarat, Mina and other areas of Hajj.
UAE's official delegation has also been making remarkable efforts to organise Hajj trips from the country and offer convenient facilities and services.
Ayesha Al Mazroui is a former Leader Writer at The National.