Saudi passport control iran pilgrims
Saudi passport personnel handle procedures for Iranian pilgrims at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz airport. Image Credit: The Saudi news agency

Cairo: Iranians have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia to perform Islamic Hajj pilgrimage next month amid a thaw in ties between the both countries.

In March, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a China-mediated deal, ending tensions of more than seven years.

The following month, foreign ministers of both countries met in Beijing, marking the first such meeting in more than seven years.

A flight carrying an unspecified number of Iranian pilgrims landed Saturday at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz airport in the Saudi holy city of Medina where Saudi passport authorities finalised their entry procedures with ease, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.

Upcoming Hajj, due late next month, is set to mark the return of the numbers of the pilgrims from across the globe to pre-epidemic levels.

Saudi Arabia has maximised preparations for Hajj, one of Islam’s five obligatory duties.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj has said that priority for registering to undertake this year’s pilgrimage is given to Muslims who did not perform it before.

The kingdom has said there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the upcoming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the global pandemic.

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times. Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.