Saudi Arabia offers to fly Qataris to Mecca as crisis continues
Saudi Arabia has allowed Qatar pilgrims to enter the country through Salwa border crossing in order to facilitate the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Meanwhile, the political crisis in the region is far from over, as Qatar does not seem too excited about the second part of the offer – allowing Saudi planes into the country to transport the pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved an exception to current Qatar border blockade by allowing Qatari citizens to enter the country through Salwa border crossing for Hajj, an annual pilgrimage, which attracts up to 2-3 million Muslims a year, Saudi Arabia media announced on August 17, 2017. This, however, cannot be interpreted a signal for crisis resolution in the Gulf. Alongside allowing Qataris to cross the border for pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia is also offering seven Boeing 777-300 flights to transport Qatari pilgrims from Doha to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. But so far, Qatari authorities have not yet issued the permission for Saudi planes to land in Doha, Saudi Press Agency announced.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and a mandatory religious duty that every Muslim must carry out at least once in their lifetime. In 2017, it will begin on August 30 and end on September 4.
In June, 2017 four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and announced a land, sea and airspace blockade the terrorism support claims. Saudi Arabia has also called off Qatari troops from the ongoing civil conflict in Yemen.