Iraqi prime minister performs Umrah during Saudi Arabia visit

Mustafa Al Kadhimi performs the pilgrimage after meeting officials in an attempt to boost bilateral ties

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi on Thursday performed Umrah in Makkah during his first official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Islam’s two holiest sites that can be undertaken at any time of year.

“Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, he was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and the Special Force for the Security of the Grand Mosque,” Saudi Arabia’s press agency said.

Mr Al Kadhimi, who was wearing the ihram, a long white robe, and his delegation were welcomed to Makkah by the governor of the city, Prince Khalid Al Faisal.

The Iraqi leader began his visit to the kingdom on Wednesday. He was received at Riyadh's international airport by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up a $3bn fund to boost the private sector in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah in March last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When it resumed in October, limited numbers of people were allowed to take part each day – booked through a government app – and strict social distancing measures were introduced.