The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Tehran, Abdul-Rahman Al-Shahri, announced on the occasion of the Nowrooz holiday, or Persian New Year, that his country has decided to double the number of visas for Iranian pilgrims. This would increase the number from 80,000 to 160,000.
Al-Shahri said that the Saudi embassy in Tehran would stamp 6,000 visas a day instead of 3,000 in order to accommodate the increase in the number of visitors.
Observers said that this announcement signals improving relations between Saudi and Iran.
Another sign of the improving relations more generally between Iran and the Gulf States, observers noted, is the visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Muscat, Oman two weeks ago. It was the first official visit for him since he was elected president.
Saudi-Iranian relations have long been plagued by high degrees of tension over several issues. Saudi has refused several attempts by the Iranian president to visit Riyadh.
However, the second largest Arab state has recently started to send indirect messages to Iran. Saudi changed its policies regarding Syria as it blacklisted several Islamist groups fighting the Syrian regime. It also blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood, which Iran has been in covert clashes with.