Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

UAE calls on Qatar to not politicise Hajj

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, says Doha’s logic is weak

Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Ruel Pableo / The National
Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Ruel Pableo / The National

Qatar must not politicise Hajj and should allow its citizens to perform their religious duty, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Sunday.

In a strongly worded statement on Twitter, Dr Gargash defended the actions that Saudi Arabia took on Saturday to ensure that Qatari pilgrims will be able to enter the kingdom for the upcoming Hajj season.

Reports indicated that Doha was trying to prevent its citizens from performing the pilgrimage.

“The hurdles that Qatar are imposing on its pilgrims reflect its failures in managing the crisis,” Dr Gargash said.

Travel for Qatari pilgrims is complicated by the break in relations between Riyadh and Doha. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic and travel links with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of promoting extremist groups, supporting terrorism and undermining regional security.

“As a priority, Qatar must not politicise Hajj as the logic and excuse behind its actions are weak,” the minister said.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Saturday that it has taken several measures to ensure that Qatari pilgrims can enter the country following a ministerial meeting with officials from Doha.

“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has launched several online links to enable Qataris and residents of Qatar to book their stay in the Kingdom and their travel via non-Qatari airlines to perform their religious duties,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry rejected claims made by the Qatari Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs that the Kingdom is obstructing efforts made by Qataris to visit Mecca.

Instead, the ministry called on Doha to allow its pilgrims to “travel and perform Hajj through international airlines except Qatar Airways”.

“They should not prevent them. They should help them perform the Hajj and Umrah without bringing politics into the matter,” the statement read.

The kingdom announced last week that there would be “electronic gates” for Qatari pilgrims to register for Hajj.

Saudi Arabia last year offered Qatari nationals Hajj visas on arrival after authorities in Doha accused the kingdom of trying to prevent their citizens from making the pilgrimage.

Updated: July 14, 2019 06:09 PM

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