Saudi Arabia allocates 33,000 Hajj seats to Iraq

Saturday, February 11, 2023

BAGHDAD — Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah welcomed the arrival of 33,690 pilgrims from Iraq, among the two million pilgrims the Kingdom is preparing to receive during the 2023 Hajj season.

This came during a joint press conference the minister held with the Chairman of the Supreme Authority for Hajj and Umrah Sami Al-Masoudi on the sidelines of his official visit to Iraq, as part of an official delegation.

During the visit, he highlighted the facilities provided by the Kingdom to pilgrims and Umrah performers, namely the reduction of the insurance value for pilgrims by 73% and for Umrah performers by 63% and encouraging the competition between companies providing Hajj services, to contribute to reducing costs for pilgrims and raising the quality of services to them.

Dr. Al-Rabiah also referred to the development process taking place at the Jdeidet Arar port, which received over the past months more than 300,000 pilgrims from Iraq.

He pointed out that the visit also included discussing several options and solutions that contribute to facilitating the arrival of pilgrims from Iraq to Makkah and to Madinah.

He cited the recent move that introduced free transit visa through Saudi carriers, which allows entering the Kingdom for four days and performing Umrah, among several other measures aimed at raising the quality of services provided, and enriching the religious and cultural experience, to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 objectives.

The minister also highlighted the facilities provided by the Kingdom to all pilgrims in general and to Iraqis in particular, including allowing holders of all types of visas to perform Umrah without any age, number, or procedural restrictions related to the presence of a Mahram for women.

He stressed the facilitating of the movement of pilgrims between the Kingdom’s cities and regions by extending the validity of the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 days, in addition to processing the religious site and historical sites that documented the biography of the Prophet and his companions to enrich the journey of pilgrims and Umrah performers.

During his official visit to Baghdad, the minister met with the Iraqi President Dr. Abdullatif Jamal Rashid and discussed bilateral relations and opportunities to develop cooperation in all fields that serve the common interests of both countries.

Dr. Al-Rabiah also met with the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Mohammed Rikan Hadid Al-Halbousi, where he stressed the keenness of all agencies involved in the Hajj and Umrah system, which includes more than 70 public and private agencies, to provide the best services to pilgrims with the highest quality standards, under the umbrella of the Doyof (Guests) Al Rahman Program.

This is one of the programs of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Such programs are in light of the unlimited support and constant care of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman, for the comfort and safety of the pilgrims.

The minister also had meetings with the Iraqi Deputy Minister of Transport Talib Abdullah Bayesh, the head of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority Imad Abdul-Razzaq Al-Asadi and the Director General of the General Authority of Customs Shaker Mahmoud Al-Zubaidi.

He stressed, during the meetings, the necessity of restoring the number of flights between the two countries to what they were before the pandemic, in light of the Kingdom’s decision to make it possible to perform Umrah and roam the Kingdom for those who have all types of visas.

He pointed out that the number of Iraqi pilgrims has exceeded 279,000 during the past months, since the start of the Umrah season for the current year. The meetings were attended by the Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdulaziz Al-Shammari. — SG