Saudi Arabia will open its land border with Qatar to allow Hajj pilgrims to pass through, its official press agency said.
A statement on the official Saudi Press Agency on Thursday said the Salwa border point would be open for Qatari citizens who wish to perform the annual pilgrimage to pass through with no electronic permissions needed.
The statement added that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had invited Qatari pilgrims to perform this year’s Hajj pilgrimage at his expense.
King Salman also ordered that private jets belonging to Saudi airlines be sent to Doha airport “to bring all Qatari pilgrims on his expenses”.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani welcomed the decision but insisted that Hajj should not be politicised and that the move should also include a full lifting of the political and economic blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and three other countries.
The Salwa border crossing had been shut after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar denies the accusations.
Jeddah is the airport hub for pilgrims travelling to Mecca and Medina to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Under the same royal directive, Qatari citizens will also be transported to Mecca from King Fahad airport and Ihsaa airport in the east of the country.
Last month, Saudi Arabia said Qataris wanting to perform this year’s Hajj would be allowed to enter the kingdom, but imposed certain restrictions including that those arriving by plane must use airlines in agreement with Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE blocked direct air and land transport to and from Qatar and closed their airspace to all Qatar Airways flights after severing ties with its Gulf neighbour in June.
As part of the blockade, the Saudi-led group also asked all Qatari nationals to leave their countries.
Doha did not impose similar restrictions on the four Arab nations.