Gulf sources told Rai Al-Youm newspaper that the main objective of the sudden visit of Omani Foreign Minister Youssef Bin Alawi to Riyadh is mediation to mend relations between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The bilateral relations between Iran and KSA have reportedly been strained due to each side’s position vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis and the Iranian nuclear program.
The timing of the visit, coming few days after Iranian president Rouhani’s visit to Muscat and his first foreign trip, reflects Iranian willingness to alleviate tensions between the two countries.
In a positive gesture towards the new Iranian leadership, Saudi authorities doubled the number of Umrah visas for Iranian citizens to 165,000 visas during the period of Eid Nowruz (Spring feast).
Observers had speculated that Bin Alawi’s visit came in the context of Omani mediation efforts between Riyadh and Doha. However, the same Gulf sources confirmed to Rai Al-Youm that Saudi-Iranian relations were the main highlight of the visit, and that Bin Alawi carried “an important message” in this regard from Iranian leadership.