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Saudi Arabia: Iranian Delegation Refuses to Sign Annual Hajj Agreement | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Deputy Minister and Head of the Hajj and Pilgrimage

Riyadh- The Saudi Ministry of Hajj, once again, confirmed that the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s leadership and the Kingdom’s government warmly welcome and are honored to host pilgrims visiting Mecca for Hajj and Umrah, irrespective of their nationality or sect.
The Kingdom considers the well-being and hosting of pilgrims a duty called upon by Islam and thus is a highly-held responsibility.

The Ministry of Hajj declared that on an annual basis and acting under royal decree issued by Saudi Arabia’s Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the ministry would send an invitation to all officials responsible for Hajj affairs across the world, requesting their attendance for pilgrimage preparations and for consulting on needed arrangements and requirements for the pilgrims of each Hajj season.
Over 78 countries are reached yearly, among which is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to the aforementioned, Iranian Deputy Minister and Head of the Hajj and Pilgrimage Hajj Said Owhadi was invited to Saudi Arabia to discuss and arrange on behalf of the Iranian pilgrims, and discuss the annual requirements of each visitor to be able to fulfill this season’s rites.

The Ministry of Hajj arranged the Iranian delegation to access the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as to discuss this year’s Hajj season.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj later revealed that the Iranian delegation refused to sign the agreement on finalizing the arrangements for this year’s pilgrimage. The delegation justified its refusal to sign by wishing to refer to higher authority back home. The delegation had insisted on a score of conditions among which was that Iranian pilgrims receive their visas from within Iran.

The Iranian delegation had left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday without signing the agreement, despite that the Ministry of Hajj had informed the delegation that Iranian pilgrims may apply and receive their visas online through filling a form on a unified e-system application for prospect pilgrims worldwide.

As for Umrah- a term used for minor pilgrimage or pilgrimage at any time of the year- the Ministry clarified that Iranian visitors were stopped from visiting the Two Holy Mosques by the Iranian government and not by authority in Saudi Arabia.

The statement issued by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to hosting Muslim pilgrims and devoting all given capacities and guaranteeing the pilgrims’ security, safety and well-being.

As for the topic on Iranians not attending this year’s Hajj season, the Ministry of Hajj held the Iranian delegation solely responsible.