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How open is the Saudi invite for Qatar's Hajj pilgrims?

21 Août 2017

Saudi Arabia's state carrier said on Sunday it had been unable to send planes to transport Qatari pilgrims to the kingdom because it had been unable to get permission to land at Doha airport, amid a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

The king has permitted "the entry of Qatari pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Salwa border crossing to perform Haj, and to allow all Qatari nationals who wish to enter for Haj without electronic permits", a statement on SPA said.

But Saleh al-Jasser, the general manger of Saudi Arabian Airlines, was quoted by Saudi state TV as saying Qatari authorities have not authorized the kingdom's aircraft to land in the capital, despite a request submitted several days ago to transport Qatari pilgrims from Hamad International Airport in Doha.

The reopening of the border initially sparked hope of a thawing in the Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia and its allies cut diplomatic ties with Doha in June over accusations that the emirate supported Islamist extremists.

But even as Doha cautiously welcomed the reopening of the border, it blasted the move as "politically motivated".

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Nearly three months after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has appeared to offer a small step towards reconciliation.

Qatari authorities had subsequently accused Saudi Arabia of politicising Haj and jeopardising the pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to guarantee their pilgrims' safety.

Saudi Arabia had already stated that Qatari pilgrims would not be affected by the travel restrictions, but some Qataris have said they faced difficulties organizing the trip for the haj, which this year runs from late August to early September.

This post was syndicated from The Independent Uganda:.

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How open is the Saudi invite for Qatar's Hajj pilgrims?