Iran, Iraq ink MOU to expand tourism ties  

June 21, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran and Iraq have recently agreed in principle to further develop ties in the arenas of tourism, pilgrimage, cultural heritage and handicrafts, CHTN reported. 

In this regard, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Wednesday between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and Iraq’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities. 

“Amongst the most important articles of the MOU is to compile a joint dossier on possible UN recognition of Arba’een pilgrimage,” said CHHTO Deputy Director Vali Teymouri, a signatory to the agreement.  

“The memorandum of understanding includes 11 articles, which are aimed at increasing cooperation between the two [neighboring] countries in the field of tourism, especially in medical tourism,” the official said. 

“Four articles are dealing with cultural heritage…, which are connected with Iran’s contribution to developing the UNESCO dossier of Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery in Najaf [which homes to remains of millions of Muslims and dozens of scientists] as well as its expertise to restore Taq Kasra, [which is an architecturally-important Sasanian-era Persian monument],” he explained.

The Iraqi side undertook [a task] in this memorandum to provide a place for the supply of Iranian handicrafts in one of the cities of Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf, Teymouri said.

The MOU was inked in Ardebil on the sidelines of the 2nd International Health Tourism Conference of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), running in the Iranian city from June 18 to 20. 

In April, Tehran Municipality also held talks with Baghdad’s urban planners and authorities to restore a number of aging monuments in Iraq including Taq Kasra, which is also called Ivan Madaen or the Archway of Ctesiphon. 

Back in March, Tehran and Baghdad agreed to waive fees on visas in the hope of increasing the number of tourists to help boost local economies and bring their peoples closer.

Some two million Iraqi nationals visited Iran during the first seven months of the past Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2018), constituting Iran’s largest source of tourists. In return, hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims head for the holy Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala each year. 

Arba’een pilgrimage, aka Arba’een trek, is a characteristic spiritual exercise in which hundreds of thousands of Iranians along with other nationals participate. The long treks will be destined to Karbala, where Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is laid to rest. It marks an end to the 40-day mourning period following martyrdom of the Imam and his loyal companions at the Battle of Karbala on Muharram 10 in the year 61 AH (680 CE).

AFM/MG

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