Saudi Arabia’s King replaces Hajj minister

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman replaced the Hajj minister on Friday, months after the kingdom hosted the smallest pilgrimage in modern history due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), pandemic.

Mohammad Benten was relieved from his post as minister of Hajj and umrah, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, citing a royal decree. He is replaced by Essam bin Saeed, who will retain his post as minister of State.

The kingdom hosted the annual Hajj pilgrimage in late July, on the smallest scale in modern history.

Only up to 10,000 Muslim residents of Saudi Arabia itself were allowed to take part, a far cry from the 2.5 million Muslims from around the world who participated in 2019. It is unclear how many pilgrims will be allowed for this year’s Hajj, as the global pandemic continues.

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