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Saudi Arabia Sees Rise in Ramadan Pilgrims

Officials in Saudi Arabia say the number of Ramadan visas issued for foreign pilgrims has jumped by 16 percent.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj said it initially planned to issue 792,000 visas during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

But it says that number was raised to 911,000 due to high demand from abroad and more space being available at hotels in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Thousands of Muslims from around the world make pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia's holy cities during Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan marks the time more than 1,400 years ago when Muslims believe the words of Islam's holy book, the Koran, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad

Muslims celebrate the month with family visits and invitations to iftars, shared meals that break the fast. Ramadan will conclude in September with a celebration called Eid al-Fitr.