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Iran Halts Umrah Flights To Saudi Arabia

Iran Halts Umrah Flights To Saudi Arabia

In an unexpected development, Iran has officially acknowledged the suspension of scheduled flights to Saudi Arabia. The planned journey to the holy land, anticipated after an approximately 8-year hiatus, faced an abrupt halt, as confirmed by an Iran Air spokesperson citing a ‘technical disagreement.’

The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency corroborated the information, reporting the cancellation of Wednesday’s flights bound for Jeddah from Tehran, Mashhad, and Isfahan due to the absence of necessary permits from Saudi authorities.

Despite speculation suggesting a ‘political’ underpinning for the flight suspension, Iran’s Minister of Culture, Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaeili, reassured the public in a statement, characterizing the issue as a “technical disagreement” between the aviation authorities of both countries, downplaying any serious implications.

Read more : Pakistan Closes Hajj Registration Due To Low Response

Last month’s confirmation of the flight resumption stirred anticipation, with Iranian authorities expressing the potential to send between 800,000 to one million pilgrims annually, contingent upon favorable conditions and cooperative efforts.

The revival of Umrah marked a significant diplomatic milestone following the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March 2023. The pilgrimage had been halted in 2015, a year before the severance of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The roots of contention between Iran and Saudi Arabia trace back to the 2015 Hajj stampede, which escalated tensions due to the deaths of Iranian pilgrims. Iranian leaders accused Saudi authorities of negligence, holding them responsible for a disaster that claimed the lives of about 2,000 pilgrims, including over 400 Iranians.

China-mediated negotiations between the two countries had shown promise, and the resumption of Umrah was viewed as a positive step. However, the sudden suspension of flights has raised concerns and sparked speculation about the underlying reasons for the interruption.