Doha (July 31, 2017): Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of politicising the Hajj, claiming Riyadh has imposed restrictions on Qatari nationals planning to travel to Mecca for the annual Muslim pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have been boycotting Qatar since June 5, accusing it of backing extremist groups and of ties to Shiite Iran, in the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years.
Riyadh said that Qatari citizens willing to perform Hajj would be allowed to enter the kingdom for the pilgrimage with certain restrictions imposed on them.
The restrictions are part of a boycott launched on June 5 by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which saw the group sever diplomatic ties with Qatar and impose a blockade. They accuse Qatar of funding “terrorism”, allegations Qatar has strongly denied.
The four Arab states cut transport links with Qatar, and Saudi Arabia has closed the peninsula’s only land border.
The Saudi hajj ministry said Qatari pilgrims arriving by plane must use airlines in agreement with Riyadh.
They would also need to get visas on arrival in Jeddah or Medina, their sole points of entry in Saudi Arabia. Qatari Islamic affairs ministry, in a statement, said the Saudi side had “refused to communicate regarding securing the pilgrims safety and facilitating their Hajj”.