Turkish president in Saudi Arabia to perform hajj pilgrimage

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Turkey’s Abdullah Gul has become the first president in his country to perform the hajj pilgrimage while in office, according to media reports on Monday.

Gul is among 1.5 million Muslims from all over the world who have traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj pilgrimage this year.

Hajj, which officially ends on Friday, is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed by every Muslim with the physical and financial means to do so, at least once in their lifetime.

The president is accompanied on his trip to Mecca this year by his wife, Hayrunnisa, who also participated in the hajj previously with the couple's son. A small delegation is also joining Gul for the trip, according to the World Bulletin news website.

“The eighth president of Turkey, the late Turgut Ozal, who died during his term in office in 1993, is the only other Turkish president to have fulfilled his hajj duty,” the website reported, noting that Ozal completed hajj while serving as prime minister.

Meanwhile, Gul is also scheduled to meet senior Saudi officials during his visit, which will end on Oct. 17, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.

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