SHAFAQNA – Over half a million Iranians have signed up for the Arbaeen pilgrimage to Karbala, Iraq, according to Said Owhadi, head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, ISNA news agency reported October 28.
In 2015 Arbaeen gathered some 20 million people in the Iraqi city to be named the biggest human gathering in history. Looking beyond the religious content, it is going to turn into a major economic feature for Iraq and the neighboring Iran as a large-scale tour.
The annual pilgrimage to Karbala gradually turned into a major event in the Shia Iranian culture after former Iraqi dictator Saddam was taken down. Saddam used to bar Iranians from going to Karbala, only to provide limited permits in the few years to the end of his rule.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Owhadi announced that next week “the first standard hotel in Karbala” will be opened, adding, “The construction of the biggest hotel in Najaf has also made 70 percent progress so far.”
In the transportation sphere, Iranian authorities recently announced that the bus fare for one way trips to the border with Iraq will be doubled during the Arbaeen pilgrimage.
Last week, Atrian, an official with a special Arbaeen transport logistics workgroup, said that this year 120,000 buses will operate to take Iranian pilgrims to the Iraqi border.
Akbar Kazemi, deputy director of the center for reconstruction of holy shrines in Iraq, last week said that facilities will be provided to 800,000 Iranian pilgrims inside Iraq each day during the Arbaeen.