Manama: A spokesperson for the Saudi foreign ministry said that a statement attributed to its foreign minister that it would re-open its embassy in Damascus was not true and lacked credibility.

Media reports had claimed that Ebrahim Al Assaf, the Saudi foreign minister, said his country would re-open the embassy in Damascus on Thursday at 1.30pm.

The Saudi diplomatic mission in Damascus has been shut down and all staff pulled out since March 2012 as the armed conflict in the country escalated.

“Due to the developments unfolding in Syria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shut down its embassy in Damascus and withdrawn all its diplomats and staff there,” the Saudi foreign ministry said to explain its decision.

Other Gulf capitals also recalled their ambassadors and diplomats and closed down their embassies with the worsening of the crisis.

However, by the end of 2018, some Gulf and Arab countries announced or hinted they were considering resuming their diplomatic relations with Syria.

In December, the UAE said it was re-opening its embassy and the Foreign Ministry said its charge d’affaires had assumed his duties.

The ministry said the UAE wanted to boost the “Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said that “the UAE decision was based on the conviction that the next stage required the Arab presence and communication in the Syrian dossier.”

Bahrain also said that its work at its diplomatic mission in Damascus was continuing and its national carrier Gulf Air announced it was mulling flying again to Syria.

Kuwait said it would resume relations with Syria only after it is re-admitted by the Arab League.

The League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011 after it accused its government of defying an agreement to stop the violent repression of demonstrators.

Expectations were high the suspension would be lifted ahead of the next Arab league summit in March in Tunisia, but the chances seem extremely thin.

Other recent Arab overtures towards Syria included a visit in December by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, the first by an Arab head of state, to Damascus.

Although the visit lasted only a few hours, it was regarded as highly symbolic of the anticipated relations between Arab countries and Syria.

In Monastir, a coastal resort in Tunisia, a Syrian plane landed for the first time in eight years, carrying dozens of tourists and journalists.

In October, the border crossing between Syria and Jordan was reopened.