Officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement about the dispatch of Iranian pilgrims to the Arab county for next year’s Hajj rituals.
During a visit to Saudi Arabia, Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Alireza Rashidian held meetings with officials from the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah about the 2019 Hajj season.
The two sides signed an agreement at the conclusion of the meetings, aimed at making better arrangements for the Iranian pilgrims and preventing the problems they faced in previous years.
Based on the document, Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization will open a mission in Saudi Arabia, issuing visa for Iranians will be facilitated, and members of Iranian executive and consular teams will be deployed to the kingdom in due time.
The agreement stipulates that 86,500 Iranian pilgrims would go on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the coming Hajj season.
In 2016, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.
On September 2, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.
The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.
Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.