By Arab News
King Salman has approved a plan to open the Salwa border crossing to Qataris performing Hajj this year, the Saudi Press Agency said late Wednesday.
The King has also ordered that a private aircraft belonging to the Saudi Arabian Airlines be dispatched to Doha Airport to fly all Qatari pilgrims to Jeddah.
SPA said the plan was submitted to the King by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who earlier met with Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassem Al Thani at the Peace Palace in Jeddah.
“During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali stressed that the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are brotherly relations rooted in history. The sheikh extended his mediation to open the Salwa border crossing for the entry of Qatari pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s territories,” the SPA said.
Also allowed to pass through the border crossing are all Qatari nationals who wish to enter Saudi Arabia for Hajj without electronic permits.
The king also directed that all Qatari pilgrims be transported from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al-Ahsa International Airport as his guests. All expenses are to be paid for by the King, under the Program of the Guests of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for Hajj and Umrah.
The Salwa crossing, Qatar’s only land border outlet, was closed in June when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt declared a boycott of Qatar.
The four Arab states, collectively called the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), have accused Doha of hosting or supporting terrorist organizations and individuals, as well as maintaining close ties with Iran, which the ATQ have accused of trying to destabilize the region by fomenting sectarian strife.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali’s was the first with a Qatari leader since the dispute came to a head.
In a statement carried by SPA, the Crown Prince thanked Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali “for his brotherly feelings” as he stressed “the depth of historical relations” between Saudis and Qataris
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), along with Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman.
Saudi officials had earlier said Qatari pilgrims are welcome to come to the Kingdom to perform Hajj in Makkah despite the ongoing dispute.
The hajj, a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once in a lifetime, is to take place this year at the end of August.