Saudi Arabia allows direct flights to Qatari pilgrims


Saudi Arabia has allowed access to pilgrims from neighboring Qatar aboard all flights other than Qatar Airways, Qatar's national carrier.

"Pilgrims from Qatar who have Hajj permits ... can come directly from Doha or through any other transit place," the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in a statement cited by the official SPA news agency on Sunday.

It pointed out that Qatari pilgrims will be allowed to come to Hajj aboard any carrier except for the Qatar Airways.

The flights will be the first between Saudi Arabia and Qatar since Riyadh and three other Arab states cut ties last month with Doha for allegedly supporting terrorism.

GACA said Qatari pilgrims will only be allowed access via King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina.

Last week, the head of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, Ali bin Smeikh al-Marri, called on Saudi authorities to "facilitate the Hajj procedures and remove restrictions" facing Qatari pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar and presented a list of demands to Doha to end the siege, including the closure of the Al Jazeera television network and Turkish base in Doha, or face further sanctions.

Doha denies the accusation of terrorism and contends the blockade is a violation of international law.

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