Qatar has expressed concerns about the safety of its citizens in Saudi Arabia following the reopening of the countries’ border to enable Qataris to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah.
Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said during a visit to Norway that Saudi authorities were yet to respond to queries from the Qatar’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) regarding the security of Qatari citizens during Hajj.
“The level of tension between the two nations, the language and the tone of the Saudi media spreading hatred against Qatari people represent a great concern for us,” he told a news conference.
“The safety and security of the pilgrims crossing the border right now are the responsibility of the Saudi authorities,” he said, adding that”more than 100″ citizens had crossed since the border was reopened.
In Sweden on Thursday, the FM said,”Regardless of the manner in which pilgrims from Qatar or those living in Qatar were banned from the pilgrimage, which was politically motivated, and the manner in which they were subsequently permitted to make the pilgrimage, which was also politicised and announced with other goals in mind… the government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“What matters to us is the bottom line, which is that our citizens now have a way to attend the Hajj (pilgrimage), and we uphold our demand that Hajj be spared politicisation and kept separate from our political issues,” he added.
Saudi Arabia has announced it would open the Salwa border crossing to Qatari pilgrims for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Makkah.
The crossing had re,ained sealed for more than two months as a diplomatic crisis between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar has seen severe restrictions on travel imposed on citizens across the region.