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Saudi Arabia reopens airspace, land and sea borders to Qatar

Saudi Arabia reopens airspace, land and sea borders to Qatar

It ends a blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia that began in 2017

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will reopen its land and sea borders as well as its airspace to Qatar as of Monday, January 4, Kuwait’s foreign minister Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah said in a televised interview.

The comment from the foreign minister, reported by Kuwait’s official news agency KUNA, effectively signals an end to the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia which began in 2017.

The news comes on the eve of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Summit, which is scheduled to take place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday, January 5.

Saudi media reported that Qatar’s Emir is expected to attend the summit for the first time since 2017.

Kuwait’s foreign minister added that the Kuwait Amir expressed his confidence for the upcoming GCC summit to be a “reconciliation summit” and one which will address “all relevant issues” and “return matters to normal”.

 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, said the summit on Tuesday would bring Gulf states together, creating “reunification and solidarity to face the challenges that our region witnesses,” according to a statement published by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash echoed the prince, saying on Twitter that Tuesday’s summit would “bring back Gulf cohesion,” prioritising the region’s security, stability and prosperity.

“There’s more work ahead of us and we’re on the right track,” he added.

The Secretary-General of the GCC also welcomed the opening of airspace, land and sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, adding the the move “reflects…the sincere efforts being made to ensure the success of the summit, which is [being] held under exceptional circumstances.”

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the agreement is likely to be Qatar Airways. While it was unable to cross Saudi airspace, the Doha-based carrier had to abandon adding new routes and make lengthy diversions – an average of 25 minutes per flight – in order to continue to others, enlarging its fuel bill.

With inputs from Bloomberg

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