Exclusive: Gambia’s new leader going to Hajj

Exclusive: Gambia’s new leader going to Hajj

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow will be leaving the West African country on Saturday to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where he would be performing the Hajj pilgrimage.

Barrow, 52, took over power in the mainly Muslim nation following months of political turmoil ignited by his predecessor’s unwillingness to cede power.

It will be Mr. Barrow’s second time in Saudi Arabia. He was in the kingdom in May where he attended a meeting of Muslim leaders with U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

The soft-spoken political newcomer is a devoted Muslim and has performed the Umra, a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca on the sidelines of the Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh.

Barrow reversed some controversial decisions made by the former president, Yahya Jammeh. Among them was Jammeh’s unanimous decision to declare the Gambia an Islamic republic.

The Gambia is a majority Muslim nation but has a significant Christian population. Muslims and Christians in the Gambia live harmoniously and celebrates each other’s feasts.

The Gambia is seeking to build strong ties with Saudi Arabia, which is engulfed in a diplomatic row with Qatar, a key business financier for the small country.

President Barrow will be hosting Muslim world leaders in next year’s Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Banjul, nearly three decades after the country played a leading role in ending the Gulf War.

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