President Abdullah Gül departed from Istanbul for Saudi Arabia at 08:30 Sunday morning accompanied by First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. President Gül, who is in Medina as a special guest of the Saudi King, arrived to the holy lands aboard the CBK private aircraft. This very special trip will mark the first time that a Turkish president will perform the Hajj pilgrimage while still in duty.
Departing Istanbul's Atatürk Airport State Guest House yesterday morning, President Gül was sent off on this historical trip by Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, Istanbul Municipal Mayor Kadir Topbaş and Istanbul Police Department Chief Hüseyin Çapkın.
Gül is expected to perform the Hajj ritual as part of the protocol in place on state leaders. During his stay, Gül will also attend a special invitation event as well as visit the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, also known as the Prophet's Mosque. Gül will also fly from Medina to Arafat by private helicopter.
In addition to President Gül, this year Pakistan's new President Memnun Hüseyin, Mauritanian President Muhammed Veled Abdülaziz and Sudan State Leader Ömer el-Beşir will also be performing their religious duties of fulfilling the Hajj pilgrimage this year.
This is a translation of an article originally written by Serdar Canıpek.