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Umrah pilgrims from Iran will have the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time in nine years, owing to a notable improvement in relations between the two Gulf nations. Wego reports that Iran plans to send the first convoy of Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on 19 December.
— IRNA News Agency (@IrnaEnglish) December 12, 2023
The inaugural convoy of Umrah pilgrims from Iran will comprise 550 Iranian pilgrims, who will spend 10 days performing the Umrah rituals, spending 5 days each in Mecca and Medina.
The cooperative milestone has been achieved with the necessary coordination with the Saudi Hajj officials and the signing of relevant memorandums and contracts. This development is preceded by the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations in March 2023.
An agreement has also been reached with Saudi officials for 70,000 Iranians to make the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy land by the end of the calendar year.
According to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, flights are scheduled to commence from 10 airports across Iran, transporting pilgrims embarking on the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to the revered Islamic city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Since 2016, Iranian pilgrims have been restricted to the obligatory Hajj pilgrimage, albeit being subject to strict quotas and timelines. However, these recent diplomatic developments will now allow Iranians to undertake the non-mandatory Umrah pilgrimage at any time of the year.
This shift also signals a broader opening of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with ongoing negotiations aiming to facilitate both religious and non-religious tourism, including direct flights between the two capitals.