Qatar refuted claims that it is preventing its nationals from going to Mecca to make the Hajj, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on Wednesday. The Qatari ministry of religious affairs said they are in contact with Saudi officials and discussed eliminating challenges facing its citizens and residents of Qatar. As part of the challenges, the ministry stressed that the border crossing has remained closed to Qatari citizens and residents seeking Hajj who cannot travel by plane.
No Qatari pilgrims have yet arrived in Saudi Arabia for this month's Hajj pilgrimage, a Saudi governor said on Wednesday, according to Anadolu Agency (AA). This year's Hajj starts Aug. 19. Relations have remained strained between Riyadh and Doha since last year when Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, severed diplomatic ties, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism.
The Saudi-led bloc also imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar, with Riyadh sealing the Abu Samra border crossing linking the two Gulf States. Qatar denies the accusations and contends that the blockade against it violates international law. Ever since, Qatari authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of imposing restrictions on Qatari nationals willing to perform Hajj pilgrimage, a claim denied by Riyadh.