Saudi king offers to host Qatar pilgrims at own expense

Can GCC survive death of international organizations

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz said Thursday he will open his country's border with Qatar - amid a months-long diplomatic standoff - to allow Hajj pilgrims to enter the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Salman's order comes as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are engaged in a diplomatic row with Qatar.

The crown prince had emphasised the "historical relations between Saudi and Qatari people" after his meeting with Qatar's Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani, the statement said.

The king has ordered that Qatari pilgrims be allowed "to enter Saudi Arabia through the border crossing to do the pilgrimage", it said.

The Saudi king also ordered that private jets belonging to Saudi airlines be sent to Doha airport "to bring all Qatari pilgrims on his expenses".

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world have already arrived in Saudi Arabia for the hajj, which begins late next week.

Doha then accused Riyadh of politicising the hajj, and of jeopardising the pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.




These are the first known negotiations between Saudi and Qatari royals since the start of the diplomatic crisis. Saudi Arabia sealed Qatar's only land border.

The pilgrims from Qatar are allowed to perform Hajj via Salwa border crossing.

Since the beginning of the siege, the statement said, NHRC "has called for facilitating Haj procedures for citizens and residents of the State of Qatar without restrictions, and also called for regional and worldwide moves to lift the injustice and not to politicise the Haj or use it as leverage against peoples or governments".

The hajj, a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once in a lifetime, is to take place at the beginning of September.

The quartet accuses the small Gulf nation of supporting extremists. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar's complaint amounted to a "declaration of war" against the kingdom's management of the holy sites.

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar al-Gargash, lambasted Qatar's criticisms of Saudi Arabia's dealings with Qatari pilgrims.

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