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Qatar Accuses Saudi of Blocking Access to Hajj

Around 1,200 Qatari citizens should be allowed to attend the pilgrimage under a quota system.Around 1,200 Qatari citizens should be allowed to attend the pilgrimage under a quota system.

Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of barring its nationals from performing this year’s hajj, a charge Saudi officials deny.

Around 1,200 Qatari citizens should be allowed to attend the pilgrimage under a quota system, but Qatari officials say it has become impossible to register for the annual religious event, Al Jazeera reported.

Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, and has placed the Persian Gulf state under a land, sea and air blockade.

Qatari nationals are also banned from entering the states, but Riyadh claims to have made an exception for the hajj.

In June, Saudi Arabia’s hajj ministry announced the opening of a website, which allowed Qataris to register for the pilgrimage. However, those in Qatar say registration is impossible.

Abdullah al-Kaabi of the state-run Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saudi Arabia had shut down the system used by travel agencies to obtain permits.

“There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for hajj,” he told Reuters.

“Registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed, and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions.”

According to Reuters, three travel agencies in Doha said they had stopped trying to sell hajj packages.

“Last year we lost a lot of money as the crisis started after we had booked everything in Mecca and Medina and we had to pay people back,” said a manager of one travel agency in Doha, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Riyadh temporarily opened the land border for the hajj last year, but has not done so this year.

Saudi officials reject the accusations and accuse Qatar of trying to politicize the hajj.

 

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