Iraq-Saudi border crossing to open on 'trial basis' in October

Reopening of Arar border post signifies a major breakthrough in ties between Riyadh and Baghdad

A picture taken on March 12, 2017 shows a road sign reading in Arabic "Stop" near the fence separating Saudi Arabia and Iraq, in the area around Arar city along the Saudi-Iraq border on March 12, 2017. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)
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Saudi Arabia and Iraq will partially reopen the Arar border crossing for trade next month, nearly 30 years after it was closed.

"Iraqi and Saudi official officially agreed to reopen the Arar border on a trial basis in mid-October for commercial purposes," Iraq's state news agency said.

The Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdul Aziz Al Shammari, and his Iraqi counterpart, Qahtan Al Janabi, inspected the crossing on Thursday and spoke to officials.


The Arar crossing was closed in 1991 after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Its reopening will mark a major breakthrough in ties between Riyadh and Baghdad.

“The opening of the border will signify the strengthening of Iraqi-Saudi relations and will increase the level of trade exchange between the two states,” Mr Al Shammari said.

The Saudi town of Arar lies 70 kilometres from the Iraqi border.

Farhan Al Dulaimi, a member of the Anbar provincial council in Iraq, said Saudi Arabia had completed 80 per cent of work on the border.

The undersecretary of the Saudi Customs Authority, Majid Al Marzam, said the crossing was now fully “equipped with advanced technology that will facilitate the movement of trade between the two countries”.

Talks on opening the border have been discussed for several years with the aim of increasing economic and trade ties between the neighbours.

It will also ease the journey of Iraqi pilgrims travelling to the holy city of Makkah.

Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement extends back to 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad following a 25-year break.

For war-torn Iraq, the kingdom's investment is promising and crucial for the country's economic growth. In October 2017, two months before Iraq declared victory over ISIS, the countries established the Iraqi-Saudi Joint Co-ordination Council, to help rebuild devastated areas retaken from the militants in Iraq.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have increased their efforts to strengthen relations with Iraq to halt the growing regional influence of Iran.