Iranian Pilgrims Travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah After Nine-Year Hiatus

22 April

Pilgrims from Iran have traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time in nine years to perform umrah (minor hajj). This was reported by Iran's IRNA news agency. According to IRNA, the first two groups, totaling 85 people and consisting of residents of Iran's Kurdistan and Kermanshah provinces, have already flown to Medina from Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport. IRNA notes that more than 5,000 Iranians are planning to travel to Saudi Arabia this year to perform the minor pilgrimage. Shamseddin Farzadipour, director of Iran's Hama Airlines, stated that "at least 44 flights from 11 airports" in the Islamic Republic will be operated to bring pilgrims to the kingdom.


On February 16, Gholamreza Rezaei, deputy chairman of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, stated that pilgrims from the country could not travel to Saudi Arabia to perform umrah because Iranian airlines lacked permission to operate proper flights to the kingdom. On the same day, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud assured his Iranian counterpart Hosein Amir Abdollahian during a telephone conversation that the delay in sending pilgrims from the Islamic republic has no political background.


Relations between Riyadh and Tehran escalated in March 2015 after the Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation in Yemen against the rebel Ansar Allah movement. In January 2016, after the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad were attacked by crowds of protesters angered by the execution of Shiite preacher Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Riyadh, the kingdom severed diplomatic relations with Iran. On March 10, 2023, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore relations and reopen embassies.


Umrah is a minor pilgrimage involving visiting Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia. It can be performed at any time of the year, except for the month designated for Hajj.



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Based on materials from TASS