photo of Saudi Arabian Aircraft photo file
CAIRO – 21 August 2017: Even though Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) welcomed Qataris to perform pilgrimage by reopening the Salwa border that was closed following severing ties, Qatar did not show any cooperation with Saudi Arabia or helped its citizens to travel to Mecca for the annual Hajj rituals.
Qatar continued its contradicting policies by refusing to grant Saudi Arabian aircraft the permission to transport pilgrims from Hamad International Airport in Doha, after Saudi Airlines has asked the Qatari authorities to grant permission for their flights to transport Qatari pilgrims.
“Saudi Arabian Airlines has so far failed to schedule flights to transport Qatari pilgrims from Hamad International Airport in Doha as the Qatari authorities have not authorized their aircraft to land, although several days have passed since the landing request was presented,” said the Director General of the General Organization of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saleh Al Jasser.
Qatar is insisting on including its citizen in the Gulf crisis. However, Saudi Arabia, despite a diplomatic row between the two countries, is currently bracing for the once-in-a-year pilgrimage season, whose rituals are regularly performed in Mecca and Medina.
In response to Qatar’s stance, Saudi Royal Court advisor called on Qatari pilgrims to stay calm saying “Qatari land borders are open for you,” and called on Saudi nationals residing in Qatar to have patience with the Qatari regime.
On Wednesday, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, declared the border to Qataris reopened and transported them back home from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al-Ahsa International Airport.
Previously in July, the Qatari authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of hindering the Qatari citizens from performing the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to guarantee their safety. Meanwhile, In July, Qatar’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs issued a decision to stop electronic registration of Hajj for Qatari citizens, without clarifying the reasons behind this decision.
In response to the Qatari accusations, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected Qatar’s attempts to politicize Hajj matters and reiterated that Qataris are welcome to perform the pilgrimage.
Speaking at a joint press conference held between the foreign ministers of four Arab countries on June 30, Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia is making great efforts to facilitate the arrival of pilgrims into the country.
Following Saudi decision, Foreign Affairs Ministers of United Arab of Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have praised the stance of Saudi Arabia that sought facilitating pilgrimage procedures for Qatari pilgrims.
The Saudi Airlines Boeing 777-300 flights are scheduled to start from August 22 to 25, while the return flights will be on September 5, at the end of the pilgrimage.
The Salwa crossing, Qatar’s only land border outlet, was closed in June when Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab of Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar for supporting terrorism.