Qatar blocks Saudi's planes from transporting pilgrims

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King meets Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani in Tangiers on Thursday

Jeddah, Aug.20 (BNA): The Saudi Arabian Airlines has not so far been able to schedule flights to transport Qatari pilgrims from Hamad International Airport in Doha due to lack of permission from Qatari authorities.

Last week, Riyadh announced that it would open its borders with Qatar to allow Muslim pilgrims' access to Mecca to observe their Hajj rituals.

King Salman also authorized Saudi planes to transport pilgrims at his expense.

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In early June, Saudi Arabia sealed Qatar's only land border.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. They also blocked Qatari flights from using their airspace. They have tried for years to pressure Qatar to stop supporting Islamist opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The complaint criticised a TV report of Saudi Arabia, which Qatar described as "attempts to terrorise travelers" flying with Qatari national flag carrier, Qatar's news agency (QNA) reported.

Qatar had accused Saudi Arabia of politicizing the pilgrimage and complained to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion last month.

Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani welcomed the decision but also indicated that Doha is expecting Saudi Arabia to lift all other restrictions unlawfully imposed on Qatar.

Sheikh Abdullah used his new Twitter account Sunday to express his disappointment over Saudi aircraft not being given permission to pick up Qatari pilgrims.

At the time Qatar hailed the move, but stressed that it was politically motivated and voiced concerns about the safety of its citizens in Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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