Qatar censures Saudi Arabia’s offer to transport pilgrims to Mecca

August 22, 2017 9:00 am

This file photo taken on June 18, 2017 shows a Airways Boeing 777-300 being moved on the Tarmac of Le Bourget airport on the eve of the opening of the International Paris Air Show. (Photo by AFP)

Doha has said that must permit Qatar’s own airlines to transport Hajj pilgrims to rather than forcing them to rely on the kingdom’s national carrier, Saudi Arabia Airlines.
“It is usual and customary for pilgrims to be transported from any country by means of national air, land and sea transportation in that country,” said information director at Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, on Monday.
The remark was made following Qatar’s denial of having blocked Saudi flights from landing in the emirate to take pilgrims to the annual Hajj in the kingdom, after Saudi Arabian Airlines claimed that one of its airliners had been prevented from landing at Hamad International Airport in Doha.
Last week, Riyadh announced that it would open its borders with Qatar to allow Muslim pilgrims reach the holy city of Mecca to perform Hajj but it imposed several travel restrictions, including flying in only on airlines approved by Saudi Arabia.
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. Doha rejects the claim.
The boycotting countries also closed their airspace to flag carrier Qatar Airways. The airline has stopped using the airspace of those countries ever since, rerouting flights and using alternative paths, including through Iranian skies.
“Saudi Arabia should lift the embargo on the State of Qatar without restriction and enable … Qatar to oversee its haj contingent and the transportation of Qatari pilgrims via their choice of airlines, Qatar Airways or otherwise,” Ahmed al-Rumaihi.
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