An American airline flight landed in Saudi Arabia this week, a first since 1997.
The Miami Air charter touched down at King Abdulaziz International Airport on Wednesday afternoon after quite a long journey. The plane stopped in Nova Scotia, Ireland and Athens before finally reaching Jeddah.
The flight was carrying 168 Hajj pilgrims from the state of Ohio. Since not one U.S. based airline has flown to Saudi Arabia in 22 years, one can imagine what the welcoming looked like. Upon their arrival, the pilgrims were greeted by several officials from the administration of King Abdulaziz International Airport and the Ministry of Haj and Umrah. They were also given roses — because what's Arab hospitality without flowers, right?
The President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdulhadi Al Mansouri, said that they provided the airline with all the necessary facilities to ensure a smooth arrival.
"This will contribute to stimulating the rest of US air carriers to restart flights between the two countries," he said, according to Saudi Gazette.
Last year, around 2 million Muslim worshipers from around the world traveled to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage (Hajj), one of Islam's five pillars. This year, Hajj is scheduled to begin on Aug. 9 and end on Aug. 14.
Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia hopes to attract more than 30 million Umrah pilgrims with top-class services.