Hajj 2023: South African pilgrim impresses with 'leopard skin' ensemble in Mecca

Hajj 2023: South African pilgrim impresses with 'leopard skin' ensemble in Mecca
Sheikh Dawood, who hails from South Africa, said he wore his leopard skin outfit to represent his Zulu culture in Mecca, where pilgrims from all around the world are expected to gather.
2 min read
26 June, 2023
Sheikh Dawood from South Africa wore a tiger skin outfit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia [Image credit - Al-Arabiya KSA]

A South African pilgrim in Saudi Arabia for Hajj has wowed his fellow pilgrims with an eye-catching outfit made from leopard skin.

Sheikh Dawood’s unique ensemble includes a vest-like item and headgear, which he wore over a thobe. He also wore footwear, trousers and other items of clothing made from what appears to be leopard -skin.

The South African said that his attire was inspired by Zulu culture in South Africa, where some people hunt leopards and use their skin to make clothes.

He said that he wanted to represent his tribe’s culture in Saudi Arabia, where pilgrims from all corners of the world will be gathering for Hajj.

Sheikh Dawood, is among the 2 million pilgrims expected to descend on the holy city of Mecca in order to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, which constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam.

The South African's ensemble garnered him attention from residents and fellow Hajj goers,  who have asked to take pictures with him on several occasions. The outfit also earned him the nickname "Abu Nimr" - which means father of a tiger. in Arabic the words for tiger and leopard are used interchangeably but tigers are not native to Africa.

Sheikh Dawood said that other pilgrims from all over the world have been eager to ask him about his culture, traditions and outfit, which he was happy to discuss.

He thanked Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and God for the opportunity to carry out the Hajj pilgrimage, calling it "an indescribable feeling."

"I’m very delighted to be here. This an opportunity that [doesn’t come] easy," he added.

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Saudi Arabia is expected to host more than 2.5 million pilgrims this year from 160 countries, setting a world record and surpassing the previous record, which was set in 2019.

2023 also marks the first restriction-free pilgrimage since outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Last year, only one million people were permitted to take part.

Update: This article has been edited to clarify the garb is made from leopard, not tiger skin. The confusion was due to mistranslation from Arabic.