Dubai: Saudi Arabia Airlines Director-General Saleh Al Jasser said that his airline has so far not been granted permission to land in Qatar, despite submitting the application several days ago.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered the land border crossing with Qatar be reopened to help facilitate the Haj pilgrimage for Qatari pilgrims. He also offered to fly in Qatari pilgrims on Saudi Airlines at his own expense, as a brotherly gesture to Qatari citizens despite tension with their rulers.
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The border had been closed since June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations and close land borders with Qatar, over Doha’s support to terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatari citizens and Gulf officials praised the decision on social media and highlighted that Qatari citizens were welcome in the country as ‘brothers’.
The decision embarassed Qatar which was trying to portray Saudi Arabia as discriminatory and unfit to manage Haj operations.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly criticised attempts by countries to politicise Haj.
Qatari royal, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, had met with Saudi King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, to discuss the issue of Haj facilitation last Wednesday.
Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman, released a statement downplaying the meeting, saying the issues discussed were related to Abdullah’s personal properties in Saudi Arabia.
“With all due respect to Shaikh Mohammad, I did not present anything personal to the king. My aim was to ease matters for Qatari pilgrims. Visits by Qataris to their relatives in Saudi Arabia have been eased. Matters have also been eased for property owners,” Shaikh Abdullah wrote on Twitter.
Adding his inputs to the issue, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, took to Twitter to praise King Salman as an example of a wise and rational man.
“The only way out of the crisis is through Riyadh.”
Meanwhile, WAM reported that Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani regretted the denial of permission to transport Qatari pilgrims from Doha on Saudi aircraft.
"My brothers and my children .. I deeply regret that you have been denied transport from Doha by Saudi planes to perform pilgrimage. I hope the brothers in Qatar will cooperate to facilitate pilgrimage for the citizens," he tweeted.
Wishing a smooth pilgrimage to those who intend to perform the rites, Al Thani said there are available opportunities for them to enter Saudi Arabia, either by air or land via Dammam and Ahsa province, WAM reported.