Geopolitics

The first Qatari vehicles drive to Saudi Arabia after the borders are reopened

Vehicles from Qatar have crossed a land border into Saudi Arabia for the first time since diplomatic and transport relations with Doha were broken off more than three years ago, the Saudi state television reported.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Friday that it would reopen its borders and airspace to Qatar, signaling an easing of the UAE’s boycott against the energy-rich country.

The decision to resume trading and travel came into effect Saturday after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced a US-backed deal on Tuesday to end the dispute.

In the dispute, Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an embargo on Doha in 2017 over allegations that it supported terrorism and was close to Iran.

Qatar denied the charges, claiming the boycott was aimed at limiting its sovereignty.

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The driver of the second car, which crossed the Abu Samra-Salwa intersection, told Ekhbariya TV: “It is good that the crisis has been resolved, that we have been warmly welcomed and that we can see the happiness of our brothers.”

As travel and trade ties resumed, a UAE official said earlier this week that re-establishing diplomatic ties between the countries would take more time as both parties worked to rebuild trust.

Qatar’s national carrier, Qatar Airways, said it has started diverting some flights through Saudi airspace. The first flight into Saudi airspace flew from Doha to Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday evening.

Saudi Airlines (Saudia) announced on Saturday that it would operate flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Doha from Monday. A spokesman for Abu Dhabi airline Etihad said the airline intends to resume flights between Abu Dhabi and Doha but has not given a date.

Measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant continue to exist on both sides of the land border between Saudi Qatar. All arrivals in Qatar must have a negative Covid-19 test and a new test at the border.

According to the Qatar News Agency, arrivals must be quarantined for a week at a hotel selected by the Qatar government for self-isolating travelers.

Additional reporting by agencies

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