Saudi Arabia says Iranian pilgrims will participate in Hajj this year

Around 80,000 Iranian pilgrims are expected to visit Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage in September following talks between Riyadh and Tehran over security and logistics.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

More than 1.8 million pilgrims took part in last year's Hajj.

Iranian citizens will participate in this year's Hajj after all necessary arrangements were made for pilgrims from the country, Saudi Arabia said on Friday.

For the first time in nearly three decades Iran's pilgrims — which would have numbered about 60,000 — did not attend last year's Hajj after Riyadh and Tehran failed to agree on security and logistics.

But after talks between the two sides, the Iranians will join this year's pilgrimage which takes place in the beginning of September.

"The ministry of Hajj and the Iranian organisation have completed all the necessary measures to ensure Iranian pilgrims perform Hajj 1438 according to the procedures followed by all Muslim countries," the official Saudi Press Agency said, referring to this year in the Islamic calendar.

The Iranian supreme leader's representative for Hajj affairs said earlier this month that "most of the questions up for discussion have been resolved and a couple of issues are remaining,"

Iran's Tasnim news agency said on March 5 that the country would send around 80,000 pilgrims this year.

Verbal duel continues

The Hajj agreement comes amid continuing tensions between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia repeatedly accuses Iran of fuelling conflicts by supporting armed Shia movements in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

Iran rejects accusations of regional aggression and says Riyadh must stop its alleged support for Sunni groups in the region.

Despite the verbal sparring, Saudi media reported in December that the Saudi minister in charge of pilgrimages, Mohammed Bentin, had invited Iran to discuss arrangements for this year's Hajj.

This year's talks revolved around compensation for the families of hundreds of people killed in a stampede during the 2015 Hajj. Iran says 464 of its citizens died in the disaster.

More than 1.8 million pilgrims took part in last year's Hajj. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims who are able must perform it at least once in their lives.

TRTWorld and agencies