Cairo: A major border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq will officially reopen this October amid growing ties between the two countries, Saudi ambassador to Baghdad Abdul Aziz Al Shammari said on Tuesday.
He added that 1,880 Iraqis on Tuesday moved through the Arar crossing into Saudi Arabia to participate in next month’s annual Haj.
They are the first batch of about 24,000 Iraqi pilgrims to travel through the crossing heading to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia in the next two weeks, the envoy added.
The Arar crossing was closed in 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of neighbouring Kuwait. The facility was later reopened, with its traffic restricted to the annual Haj trips.
“The outlet will be officially opened on October 15. It will mark a qualitative leap in enhancing Saudi-Iraqi relations and raise the level of trade exchange between the two countries,” Al Shammari told Dubai-based TV channel Al Arabiya.
He added that the crossing will be open around the year for the land trips of Iraqis wishing to perform the Haj and the Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage).
In recent years, ties have improved between Riyadh and Baghdad after they were seriously strained in the aftermath of Saddam Hussain’s 1990 incursion into Kuwait.
In April, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi made his first visit to Saudi Arabia since he took office last October.