The United Kingdom’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, has performed Hajj after recently converting to Islam.
The diplomat was pictured with his wife in the traditional white garments of the annual pilgrimage, which is compulsory for all Muslims to perform at least once in their lives.
Mr Collis has been posted in Riyadh, Saudi’s capital, since 2015.
He is the first British ambassador to perform Hajj. He is married to Huda al-Mujarkech, a Syrian Muslim.
He has previously served as Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, Bahrain and Syria – where he was kicked out by President Bashar al-Assad in 2012 when diplomatic relations collapsed in the face of the growing Syrian civil war.He has also served in positions in Tunisia, India, Yemen and the UAE.
He said that he had converted to Islam “after spending 30 years in Muslim societies”.
The cities of Medina and Mecca are off-limits to non-Muslims on the basis of a verse in the Koran. In terms of Hajj specifically, the pilgrimage is so over-subscribed that the Saudi authorities only issue visas to a proportion of those who apply each year.