saudi arabia

Riyadh, Tehran reach agreement on pilgrimage arrangements

The accord enables dispatch of 86,000 Iranians on pilgrimage, says Iran official

09:32 March 21, 2017
Saudi King Salman

Manama: The Saudi cabinet said the kingdom was mobilising all its human and material resources to serve and ensure the safety, security and well-being of all Muslims performing pilgrimage (Haj) or Umrah or visiting the holy mosques.

The cabinet session, chaired by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, on Monday said that Saudi Arabia was proud of taking care of and looking after all pilgrims regardless of their nationality and affiliations.

Last week, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached an agreement on the arrangements for Iranians to perform pilgrimage this year.

The accord marked a remarkable reversal of situation over last year when countries were deadlocked after Iran demanded specific arrangements for its citizens and Saudi Arabia insisted that all countries would receive the same treatment. 

Iran eventually banned its citizens from performing Haj, the annual ritual required from all physically-fit and financially-able adult Muslims.

“With reference to the meeting between Mohammad Bin Taher Bantan, the Minister of Haj and Umrah, with the head of Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation Hamid Mohammadi in Jeddah, to discuss the Haj for Iranians, as is the case with all other Arab and Islamic countries, the two sides have agreed on all the arrangements for the participation of the Iranians,” the Saudi ministry said. “The Iranians will perform Haj in accordance with the procedures adopted with the various Islamic countries.”

In Tehran, Seyyed Ali Qazi Askar, a senior official in charge of Haj affairs, said the accord enabled dispatch of 86,000 Iranians on pilgrimage.

“The Saudis said that they would take the responsibility and ensure comfort, esteem, dignity, and safety for the Iranian pilgrims while they are in the kingdom,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Every Muslim country has a Haj quota of 1,000 pilgrims per million inhabitants and the biggest contingent comes from Indonesia.