Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat
Image: © Nariman El-Mofty / AP/Press Association Images

Millions attend Hajj, US pipeline protests, Great Wall crowdfunding. 10-16 September: What just happened?

As Hajj ends, Mecca set to grow even bigger, protests over pipeline on Native American lands, and China crowdfunds Great Wall restoration. Here's our review of the news over the last seven days

As Hajj ends, Saudi Arabia has plans to make it even bigger

Nearly two million people gathered in Mecca this week, as part of the annual five-day Hajj pilgrimage. Worshippers from over 150 countries came together to pray in one of the world’s largest displays of mass religious devotion. All Muslims are expected to do Hajj at least once in their lifetime, providing they’re well enough and can afford it. Attending can cost anywhere between $800 and $12,000 depending on the kind of package you go for. Those that do go have a big impact on Mecca’s economy of course, as hotels, lodgings and restaurants are packed with visitors. There are now plans to spend some $100bn to expand Mecca so that millions more can come, as Saudi Arabia looks to boost its tourism sector. The Guardian looks at the impact of this on the city’s residents and IBT has some amazing pictures of this year’s pilgrimage.

New oil pipeline? No thanks

A protester holds up a sign that says
Image: © Jacquelyn Martin / AP/Press Association Images

Thousands of protesters in the US are fighting the construction of a new oil pipelines that would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois. The $3.8bn project would carry around 500,000 barrels of oil every day. Yet many people aren’t happy, as indigenous tribespeople claim the pipe would disturb sacred sites and could contaminate drinking water. But after months of protesting, has anything changed? Well, the authorities have just declared a voluntary pause on all construction, but it’s too early to tell how this one will pan out. To find out more take a look at the Huffington Post’s coverage. Updates are also available via the camp’s Facebook page.

Crowdfunding the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Officials in China have launched an online crowdfunding campaign to pay for restoration work on the Great Wall of China. Almost $45,000 has been raised by over 16,000 people so far. But the ultimate target is far bigger - $1.7m by December. Organizers say the reason the campaign’s been launched is because the government can’t afford all the costs on their own. Some people are sceptical though, asking why public hand outs are needed at all. Others love the idea, with one person writing on the site: “I’m willing to invest in this! In the future I can proudly tell my grandchildren that this is our family estate!". Fair play. The BBC has the full story.

The Bank of England buys a slice of Apple’s pie

An Apple mouse

The Bank of England is buying Apple’s bonds, just weeks after the American tech giant was accused of avoiding tax. This follows the Bank’s decision to enter the company bond market. What’s that? Well, bonds are basically IOUs. A company sells the bond for cash on the promise that it pays it back with interest in the future. The Bank says it’s doing this in order to bring down borrowing costs and encourage investment, based on the idea that Apple makes a ‘material contribution’ to the UK economy. But given that they’ve just been accused of avoiding tax in the UK, some critics are disputing whether they do. Check out the BBC’s article which explains all.

In other news...

Fancy Fiver. Brits have got a spanking new plastic £5 note to use. The note has a see through window too, and includes Winston Churchill on the front. Now it’s no bother when it goes through the washing machine.

Flying Fizz. Booze to your bedroom – via drone. Yep, a new app allows users to order can of bubbly and have it delivered straight to wherever they are. The service is being launched in New York and will cost between $9 and $14. Cheers!

Cotton Competition. The government of Uzbekistan is offering free electrical appliances to the people who pick the most cotton during this year’s harvest. Prizes include a free televisions, fridges and washing machines. Sounds a bit like Bullseye, Jim Bowen would be proud…

Monster move, as Nessie relocates… to Hull

The Humber Bridge on a sunny day

After years of speculation a Hull historian is leading the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster, not in Scotland, but in the River Humber. Yep, looks like Nessie has taken a trip to next year’s UK capital of culture. He believes it could be the under the 1.4mile long Humber Bridge, which was once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. So what could be a loss to the economy of Loch Ness, might just be a boost to Hull, which was named one of the UK’s most deprived areas earlier this year. The Hull beast is probably a different one though, as it apparently has an ‘elephant-sized head, six humps, and flashing eyes’, which is nothing like Nessie at all, who’s much more elegant than that.

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