Saudi Arabia's King Salman chairing a virtual Cabinet session in Jeddah on May 28, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has issued an order to host 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims from the families of martyrs, prisoners and the wounded, enabling them to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year.

The initiative is part of King Salman’s Hajj Guests Programme, which is annually overseen by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.

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King Salman also chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, state media said, the first time the monarch was reported to have carried out official duties since receiving medical treatment more than a week ago.

The 88-year-old king, custodian of Islam’s holiest sites was seen in photographs heading the weekly cabinet meeting, held by video conference. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, along with ministers, could be seen in the photographs in attendance.

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At the beginning of the meeting, the king thanked the Saudi people for their well-wishes and kind prayers.

“He also expressed his appreciation for everyone who sent him their wishes of health and wellness from the leaders of brotherly and friendly countries, asking the Almighty God to grant everyone good health and happiness,” according to the cabinet statement, carried by the state news agency.

It previously reported that King Salman was to receive medical care for lung inflammation. Prince Mohammed later postponed an official visit to Japan due to the king’s health.

Sources previously told Reuters the crown prince was also scheduled to visit China.

State TV broadcast footage of King Salman chairing the meeting, whose participants also included Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Dr. Abdul Latif bin Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh expressed profound gratitude and thanks to King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman for their unwavering support for Palestinian families affected by conflict, enabling them to participate in the sacred rituals of Hajj as honoured guests.

“The continuation of this generous gesture towards Palestinian pilgrims, funded by King Salman, underscores the deep bond between the King and the Palestinian people, and his respect for the Palestinian families affected by the ongoing conflict,” Al Sheikh said.

He emphasised that the initiative will significantly impact the Palestinian community, alleviating their suffering, particularly for the families of martyrs, prisoners, and the wounded.