The welcome sign of Qatari pilgrims in Mecca - File Photo
CAIRO - 18 August 2017: Saudi Arabia opened its land borders for Qatari pilgrims to perform hajj, refuting Doha’s claims that the kingdom politicizes pilgrimage and hampered Doha pilgrims from performing hajj.
On Wednesday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree to allow Qatari pilgrims to enter the Kingdom for hajj through Salwa Land Port without electronic permits.
The director general of the Passports Department at the Salwa border crossing announced on Friday the completion of procedures for 120 Qatari pilgrims without the need for prior permission. He asserted that Salwa border is ready to work around the clock to serve the Qatari pilgrims.
King Salman has ordered Saudi Arabian airlines planes to Doha to transport all Qatari pilgrims directly at his expense, despite the kingdom’s decision to place a trade and air embargo on Qatar in June.
The king also directed that all Qatari pilgrims be transported from King Fahad International airport in Dammam and Al-Ahsa International Airport under the Guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud program for hajj and umrah.
The Salwa crossing, Qatar’s only land border, was closed in June when Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Saudi Airlines, in coordination with the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), allocated seven flights for transporting Qatari pilgrims from Doha to the King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah.
“Amid the current political situation with Doha, the Saudi government welcomes the pilgrims from all countries of the world, including those coming from Qatar,” the Ministry of Hajj said in a statement released in late July, adding that the authorities allow those who are lawfully approved for hajj to enter the Kingdom via all airlines except Qatar Airways.
Mohamed Al-Ghoul, deputy head of Saudi’s Parliament Human Rights Committee, stated that King Salman’s orders to open border for pilgrims coming from Qatar to perform hajj without electronic permits proves that Saudi had never closed its borders to any pilgrims from all over the world.
Al-Ghoul told Egypt Today that the measures taken by Saudi Arabia confirm that Qatar's claims regarding the politicization of Hajj are null and void and that the crisis and boycott are not with the Qatari people but with the regime in Doha.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates along with Egypt and Bahrain decided on June 5 to severe diplomatic and trade relations with Doha, closing their mutual land borders and air spaces.
The neighboring Arab states’ decision came after accusations of Qatar’s support for terrorism surfaced.
Saudi Arabia is currently bracing for the once-in-a-year pilgrimage season, whose rituals are regularly performed in Mecca and Medina.