Saudi Arabia to open border with Qatar to let pilgrims attend hajj

Javier Howell
August 18, 2017

Saudi Arabia has announced it will open its land border with Qatar to allow in pilgrims making the journey to Mecca.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the announcement to reopen the border for Qatari pilgrims came after the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Qatar's Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, in the first high-level public encounter between the countries since the crisis erupted.

Saudi's King Salman also offered to dispatch private jets to transport pilgrims from Qatar to Jeddah.

Doha then accused Riyadh of politicising the hajj, and of jeopardising the pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.

"The government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively", HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference in Stockholm.

SPA reported Wednesday that Salman will allow the entry, which will be enforced by Saudi Arabia's Directorate General of Passports with "full hospitality at his expense".

Qatar is facing its worst political crisis in decades, with Saudi Arabia leading a four-state bloc that suspended all ties with Doha two months ago over accusations the emirate had close ties to Islamist extremist groups and Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran.

He also ordered that the transport of all Qatari pilgrims from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al Ahsa's International Airport will be done free of charge.

Qatar had previously filed a complaint with the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion over restrictions placed on its nationals who wanted to attend the hajj this year. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar's complaint amounted to a "declaration of war" against the kingdom's management of the holy sites.

A total of 5, 571 pilgrims from Kaduna State have been transported to Saudi Arabia, the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board's Spokesman, Yunusa Abdullahi says.

Other reports by Insurance News

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