DAMMAM — The first group of Syrian pilgrims arrived in Makkah on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. There are more than 200 pilgrims in the first batch of Syrian pilgrims who arrived in the Kingdom after a hiatus of 12 years.

Maktab 60 of the Rawaf Mina Company is tasked to serve these pilgrims. The Hajj service providing company has completed all preparations and mobilized all its human capabilities to provide the pilgrims with the best possible services from the moment of their arrival. This is in line with the directives of the wise leadership to extend them the finest services so as to enable them to perform their rituals in ease and comfort.

For their part, the pilgrims expressed their thanks to the Saudi government for the excellent facilities and services that it provides to pilgrims to make their lifetime journey a safe and incredible experience.

Syria started on Tuesday operating direct Hajj flights from Damascus International Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport Jeddah, ending 12 years of isolation since the civil war began.

A flight carrying 270 Syrian pilgrims left Damascus for Jeddah and more flights are expected in the coming days, Suleiman Khalil, an official of the Syrian transport ministry, said. It was the first after all passenger flights between the two countries were halted in 2012, he said. “This decision only applies to the Hajj period and we are studying the reopening of a direct air route,” Khalil added.

Last year, Syria’s head of Hajj affairs said that Syria’s Hajj pilgrimage would be resumed in 2024 after 12 years of suspension. He attributing this to the requirement of sufficient time for making the Hajj arrangements after the normalization of ties between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia and Syria agreed to resume consular services in April 2023 and restored full diplomatic relations in May last year. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended the Arab Summit held in Riyadh in the same month, for the first time in 12 years, marking the return of Syria to the Arab fold after long years of isolation.

Last Sunday, Saudi Arabia named Dr. Faisal bin Saud Al-Mujfel as its ambassador to Syria while Syria’s new Ambassador Dr. Muhammad Soussan assumed charge in Riyadh in January this year.

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