CAIRO - The Saudi government has set up a new council, under the direct control of the king, to supervise the affairs of the two holiest mosques of Islam, Saudi state media said on Thursday.

The new body will "preside over the religious affairs of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina,” according to a government statement on state news agency SPA posted on social media platform X.

The council, which replaces a previous one that was under the government's control rather than the king's, will likely have more financial and administrative independence.

Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina are Islam’s two holiest sites. The new council will supervise activities in both, including religious lessons, sermons and calls to prayer, the statement said.

(Reporting by Omar Abdel-Razek; Editing by Bernadette Baum)