Saudi border reopens to Qatar Hajj pilgrims by order of the King

Al Jazeera English

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a possible sign of thawing relations, Saudi Arabia is reopening its land border with Qatar so that pilgrims can cross over to perform Hajj.

The decision comes by order of King Salman, after his son Crown Prince Mohammed met with an envoy from Doha yesterday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The meeting, in which officials expressed “brotherly feelings,” marked one of the first times Saudi and Qatari authorities have spoken since the dispute began in June.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

That’s when Saudi, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut economic and political ties with Qatar and closed their borders to its nationals, citing political reasons.

Free flights

According to SPA, the King has also instructed Qatari pilgrims be flown to Jeddah via private jets at his expense.

The Hajj announcement comes as the Gulf dispute enters its third month, and after Saudi Arabia drew international criticism for politicizing the pilgrimage.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

Officials had previously said Qatar residents were welcome to perform the Hajj, but they couldn’t use Qatar Airways to fly into Saudi Arabia.

This year, Hajj starts at the end of August.

A Muslim who is physically and financially able is required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lives.

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