Early on Monday, Doha officials officially responded to Saudi Arabia's opening of the Salwa Crossing border to Qatari pilgrims. 

This came just a day after the country denied claims made by Saudi officials, accusing Qatari authorities of refusing to allow a Saudi Airlines flight to land at Hamad International Airport. 

In its statement on the matter, Doha's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was "surprised" that Riyadh had decided to restrict "the transfer of Qatari pilgrims to Saudi Arabian Airlines only."

The ministry's information office director, Ahmad bin Saeed Al-Rumaihi said

"Limiting the transfer of Qatari pilgrims to Saudi Arabian Airlines only is unprecedented, illogical, surprising and contravenes the teachings of Islam." 

Al-Rumaihi also stressed that the "State of Qatar and Qatari pilgrims don't need aid in terms of covering the cost of Hajj and portraying it as a charity, because charity has beneficiaries who need it more than Qatari pilgrim."

He also added "that facilitating the performance of Hajj would be through an unconditional lifting of the siege on the State of Qatar." 

Qatar's Aviation Authority denied Saudi claims on Sunday

An official source from Qatar's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had earlier denied claims made by media outlets in blockading nations stating that Qatar has refused to allow Saudi Airlines to fly Qatari Hajj pilgrims.

A source from the authority said the Saudi statement was "baseless," adding that the request was simply being referred to proper channels for approval. 

CAA also said that their response comes "in accordance with procedures followed in the past."

Saudi Arabia's Salwa land border remains open to Qatari pilgrims

Left: Sheikh Abdullah, Right: Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Source: www.spa.gov.sa

Last week, King Salman ordered the opening of the Salwa crossing, Qatar’s only land border outlet, to all Qatari pilgrims. 

The border was closed early in June, after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt began a blockade on the Gulf state.

The king also directed officials to fly all Qatari pilgrims on private aircraft belonging to the Saudi Airlines at his own expense.

The decision to open the Salwa border and transport Qatari pilgrims came after a meeting between Saudi leaders and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, a prominent – yet little-known – member of the Qatari royal family. 

Sheikh Abdullah met first with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia before traveling to meet with King Salman, who is currently vacationing in Morocco.

For his part, Sheikh Abdullah expressed disappointment that his country had not yet granted the planes permission to land.

Blockade and feud continue

Left: Qatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani; Right: Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir

Qatar's relationship with Saudi Arabia has soured since early June.

Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE have joined the kingdom in blockading the emirate, accusing it of supporting and funding terrorism.

The Hajj has become a significant issue in the crisis, as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have accused each other of using the pilgrimage and the holy city of Mecca as a political tool in their dispute. 

Since the beginning of the blockade, Saudi officials have always stressed that Qatari pilgrims are welcome to enter the kingdom for Hajj in Mecca, despite the crisis.

However, according to Middle East Eye, although 20,000 Qataris applied for Hajj visas this year, the country was only granted a quota of 1,600.