UK

British ambassador performs Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca

Simon Collis and Huda Mujarkech Image copyright @fawziah1
Image caption British ambassador Simon Collis and his wife Huda Mujarkech on their pilgrimage

The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia has performed the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca after converting to Islam.

Simon Collis made the holy trip - which it is a duty for all able-bodied Muslims to make at least once in their life - with his wife Huda Mujarkech.

The 60-year-old is the first UK ambassador to perform Hajj.

Mr Collins has been pictured wearing the white robes traditionally worn for the pilgrimage which re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The photograph was posted on the twitter account of Saudi Arabian writer and female activist Fawziah Albakr, who wrote in Arabic: "First British ambassador to the Kingdom undertakes the Hajj following his conversion to Islam. Simon Collis with his wife Huda in Mecca. Praise be to God."

Among the Twitter users to offer congratulations Saudi Arabia's Princess Basmah bint Saud, who wrote: "Special congratulations to the ambassador and his wife."

Image copyright @fawziah1

Mr Collis took to Twitter to thank well-wishers and revealed he had converted to Islam shortly before marrying his wife.

He wrote: "In short, I converted to Islam after spending 30 years in Muslim societies and before getting married to Huda."

The British diplomat has served as the ambassador to Saudi Arabia since 2015.

He has held several posts with the Foreign Office, including as ambassador to Iraq, Syria and Qatar.

Image copyright @fawziah1

In 2012, he was withdrawn from Syria by the Foreign Office following security concerns and has openly criticised the Assad regime for its role in the civil war.

Mr Collis was also British consul-general in Dubai and Basra and has also served in Tunis, New Delhi and Amman.

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