A record number of more than 10,500 Chinese Muslims are expected to performed their pilgrimages to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, according to the Islamic Association of China (IAC). This is the first time the figure is exceeding the 10,000 mark, said Hong Changyou, IAC vice chairman. The first group of IAC staff and doctors will leave for Makkah early November, almost one month ahead of the pilgrimage rites. The number of Chinese doing the pilgrimage has been rising steadily in recent years. In 2004, more than 4,700 performed their pilgrimage and last year, the number rose to 9,799. With China’s economic development, more Chinese Muslims can afford to go to Makkah for pilgrimage. This year, China will sent 150 working staff including medical staff to Makkah to provide services to help pilgrims, said Hong. China has more than 20 million Muslims, mainly living in Xinjiang, Qinghai, Ganshu, Ningxia, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Henan. Since 1985, nearly 100,000 Muslims have performed their pilgrimage.