Oslo, August 19: Amid Gulf crisis verbal spat between Qatar and four Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt continues. Though Saudi Arabia has allowed Qataris for Haj pilgrimages, Doha expressed concerns over the security and safety of its citizens in kingdom instead of praising them.
Notably, Qatar’s government has expressed concerns over the security and safety of its citizens in Saudi Arabia who are crossing the border to perform the annual Haj following Riyadh’s move of reopening its border with Doha for pilgrims only, instead of praising the move.
Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Friday said that Qatar is concerned about the safety of its citizens in Saudi and the Saudi authorities had yet not responded to queries from Qatar’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs regarding the security of its citizens during the Haj rituals.
Minister Al Thani while speaking at a news conference yesterday with Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende in Oslo, Norway said, “The Saudi authorities have yet to respond to queries from the Qatari Ministry of Islamic Affairs regarding the security of Qatari citizens during Haj.”
Minister Al Thani further said, “The level of tension between the two nations, the language and the tone of the Saudi media spreading hatred against Qatari people represents a great concern for us.” “Those people crossing the border right now are under the responsibility of the Saudi authorities for their security and safety,” the Foreign Minister added.
Interestingly, Al Thani’s statement came three days after Saudi Arabia showing up a goodwill gesture allowed Qatari nationals to visit Haj pilgrim to offer prayers. King Salman has permitted the entry of Qatari pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Salwa border crossing to perform Haj and to allow all Qatari nationals who wish to enter for haj without electronic permits.
Also, he ordered that private jets belonging to Saudi airlines be sent to Doha airport to bring all Qatari pilgrims on his expenses. The Salwa border crossing had been closed after Saudi Arabia, Egypt Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut off all the diplomatic ties with Qatar alleging that Doha supports extremism and finance terrorism heavily.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and several other nations cut ties with Qatar and imposed stringent economic sanctions on it over supporting extremism. On the other side, Qatar denied all their allegations saying that they never supported Islamist militants and Shi'ite Iran.
Importantly, the Haj, which is a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once in a lifetime, is to take place this year at the beginning of September. Over 1.8 million pilgrims took part in last year’s haj.