Saudi Arabia has reopened its border with its neighboring country Qatar amid a months-long rift between the countries.
Saudi officials said that the country reopened its border with Qatar for Hajj, the biggest yearly pilgrimage for the Muslims.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the country on June 5. Three other countries, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt were involved in the initial moves against Qatar since the beginning.
The blockade went on in the Muslim month of holy Ramadan that sparked controversy in the Muslim world.
The Saudi decision to reopen its border with Qatar for Hajj purpose reflects the Saudi leaders’ understanding of the gravity of negative Muslim perceptions regarding Saudi Arabia’s treatment towards fellow Muslims.
The Saudi decision to reopen the border with Qatar hasn’t been warmly received by the Qatari leadership. The Associate Press (AP) reported that the Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman held a meeting with a member of Qatari royal family which came as a big surprise. But the Qatari royal member whom Bin Salman met was from a royal group from Qatar who were ousted in 1972.
Sheikh Abdullah has been living in Saudi Arabia for a long time. Both the crown prince and Sheikh Abdullah posed smilingly for the cameras during their meeting.
Bin Salman’s surprise meeting with an ousted royal member may further irritate the current leadership of Qatar even though Saudi Arabia decided to lift the land blockade afterwards.
Qatar took 12 hours to react to the Saudi decision to reopen the border.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that he ‘welcomes’ the Saudi decision, but he again reiterated the Qatari demand to lift the blockade all together.
“Regardless of the manner in which Qataris were banned from the pilgrimage, which was politicized, and the manner in which they were again permitted to make the pilgrimage, which was also politicized … the government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively,” said Al Thani in Sweden.