In a positive move that comes amid the ongoing Qatari crisis, King Salman approved a plan to open the Salwa border crossing to Qataris performing Hajj this year, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported late on Wednesday.
The Salwa crossing, Qatar’s only land border outlet, was closed early in June, after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt began a blockade on the Gulf state.
The king ordered "that all Qatari pilgrims be transported from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al-Ahsa International Airport as hosts of him within the Program of the Guests of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for Hajj and Umrah," SPA wrote.
He also directed officials to fly all Qatari pilgrims on private aircraft belonging to the Saudi Airlines at his own expense.
The order emphasized that all pilgrims benefiting from the plan should be Qatari nationals.
Saudi officials had earlier announced Qatari pilgrims are welcome to enter the kingdom for Hajj in Mecca, despite the ongoing dispute. However, they were not allowed to enter via the Salwa border crossing.
The latest move was recommended by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
King Salman's order came after his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, submitted a plan recommending the latest moves.
Bin Salman had discussed the plan with Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassem Al Thani during a meeting the two held at the Peace Palace in Jeddah.
“During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali stressed that the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are brotherly relations rooted in history. The sheikh extended his mediation to open the Salwa border crossing for the entry of Qatari pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's territories,” SPA wrote.
The meeting signals a more positive outlook on the Saudi-Qatari relations, and comes at a time when Kuwait continues to mediate between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the other blockading countries.