A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on Tuesday declared the end of the bitter rift in which members of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain – as well as Egypt – have blocked Qatar since June 2017. The group severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge vehemently denied.
Kuwait and the United States had negotiated reconciliation.
On the eve of the 41st GCC summit held in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom agreed to reopen its air, sea and land borders with Qatar – a major step forward in the Gulf crisis.
State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines – also known as Saudia – announced on Saturday that it would operate flights from the capital Riyadh and the port city of Jeddah to the Qatari capital Doha from Monday.
Qatar’s national airline also announced on Twitter that it would resume flights to three Saudi cities next week. The first services will take place in Riyadh on Monday.
Qatar Airways announce the resumption of flights to Saudi Arabia, starting with connections to Riyadh on Monday January 11, 2021, then Jeddah on Thursday 14 and Dammam on Saturday January 16 pic.twitter.com/Qwhti7d1iS
– Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) January 9, 2021
The border crossing reopened
The announcements came as Saudi Arabia and Qatar reopened a major land border post on Saturday.
Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya broadcast footage of Qatari cars entering the kingdom through the Salwa border post.
“Thank goodness the crisis has been resolved,” a Qatari in his car told the TV station. “I appreciate the warm welcome from our brothers.”
Some 68 cars entered Saudi Arabia through the crossing, while 20 more left for Qatar on Saturday, a Saudi customs official said.
“The level crossing is in full operation. We welcome the Qatari citizens, ”Ali al-Aklabi, head of customs at the Salwa crossing, told Al-Ekhbariya.
Qatar, meanwhile, said arrivals through its border crossing with Saudi Arabia from Saturday would undergo coronavirus-related measures.
These include getting tested for coronavirus and getting a virus-free certificate no more than 72 hours before travel.
All arrivals will also be subject to the hotel’s quarantine for one week, the Qatar government communications office added in an online statement.