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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Qatar's attempt to block Hajj pilgrims is 'disgraceful', Gargash says

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs says Qatari rulers have shown mistrust in their own people

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash. AFP Photo
The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash. AFP Photo

Dr Anwar Gargash described an attempt by Doha to prevent Qatari citizens from performing Hajj as "disgraceful" and said its rulers had shown mistrust their own people.

In a strongly worded statement on Twitter on Friday, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs suggested that Qatar's move would not be forgotten. Doha is believed to have blocked a website set up by the Saudi Ministry for Hajj and Umrah for those wishing to make the holy pilgrimage to Makkah from Qatar.

"As soon as the Qatar crisis subsides and years pass by, the Qatari government's call to restrain its citizens from performing Hajj will remain pinned because such a perverse and unorthodox call is widely unsupported by states which find it disgraceful to their year-long stand and political approach," Dr Gargash said.

In a separate tweet, he questioned Qatar's priorities and ability to distinguish between political matters and the wishes of its citizens to visit Saudi Arabia to fulfil their religious duties.

"The Qatari government’s decision bars its citizens from performing the rituals of Hajj, and regardless of all the justifications it touted, it shows a clear absence of informed vision that can differentiate between what is political and what is more important. Not to mention that the politicisation and enticing fear against your own citizens’ performance of Hajj is a sign of mistrusting them, their priorities and their choices," he said.

Last month Saudi Arabia relaunched an online portal for Qataris to register for Hajj after Doha appeared to block local access to the old one.

The site is intended to help Qataris perform the holy pilgrimage despite Saudi Arabia being embroiled in a diplomatic stand-off with its neighbour.

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Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut relations with Qatar last year and have since barred its citizens from entering the country without special permission.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said last month that despite the Qatari government attempting to block it citizens from performing the religious duty, it “welcomes the Qatari people to perform Umrah rituals following a completion of registering their legal information”.

The statement continued: “The ministry affirms that the citizens and residents in Qatar can come by air through King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah via all airlines companies except Qatar Airways.”