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Saudi Arabia to open Arar border crossing for Iraqi pilgrims

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Saudi Arabia and Iraq have agreed to open the Arar border crossing for Iraqi pilgrims, a statement by the Supreme Commission for Hajj and Umrah announced on Thursday.

The port of Arar, the Iraqi border with Saudi Arabia, has been closed for 27 years, while it is opened annually to Iraqi pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia has been working for months to restore and maintain the road leading to the port of Arar, in preparation for its opening.

“An agreement was reached during a meeting with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to open the Arar border crossing to increase the number of pilgrims and reduce the cost of traveling, in addition to activating the land transport sector,” the statement read.

Last August, Saudi Arabia and Iraq announced a plan to open the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time since 1990, when it was closed after the countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

“Head of the commission, Khaled El-Attiyah, has demanded more pilgrimage seats for Iraqi pilgrims because a lot of Iraqis were deprived of performing Hajj,” the statement added. 

The governor of Iraq’s southwestern Anbar province, whose staff was on hand for the ceremonies, said the Iraqi government had deployed troops to protect the desert route leading to Arar and called its opening a “significant move” to boost ties.
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