Crossing the border after 3 years

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Qataris drove across the land border into Saudi Arabia on Saturday for the first time in more than three years.

“We’re returning to our second home country,” said the first Qatari to enter the Kingdom through the Abu Samra-Salwa border crossing. “The process and passing through was easy, and port authorities are cooperative and welcoming.”

The driver of the second car through the checkpoint said: “It’s good the crisis has been resolved, and the warm welcome we had, and the happiness we see in our brothers.”

At least 70 vehicles passed through the crossing into the Kingdom on the first day and 20 traveled in the other direction, the crossing’s customs director Ali Al-Aklabi said.

Preventive measures and health checks to contain the spread of the coronavirus are in place on both sides of the Saudi-Qatar land border.

Qataris entering Saudi Arabia must produce evidence of a negative test, take a further test at a health center set up at the crossing, and self-isolate in the Kingdom for up to seven days.

In the other direction, all arrivals into Qatar must also present a negative COVID-19 test, take a new test at the border and quarantine for one week in one of a number of selected hotels.

The Kingdom last week ended the trade, travel and diplomatic boycott of Doha imposed in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

The UAE said last week that travel and trade links could resume within a week of the deal, but restoring diplomatic ties required more time as parties work to rebuild trust.

Saudia, the Kingdom’s national carrier, will resume flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Doha on Monday, the airline said on Saturday.

Qatar Airways said it would resume flights to Riyadh on Monday, Jeddah next Thursday and Dammam next Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told during the GCC Summit that an agreement to mend relations with Qatar stressed the importance of solidarity and security among Gulf, Arab and Muslim nations.

UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, has earlier announced that his country was keen to restore Gulf unity. However, he added, “We have more work to do and we are in the right direction.”

The lifting of the embargo by Saudi Arabia paves the way for Qatar’s ruler to attend an annual summit of Gulf leaders that began in the kingdom’s ancient desert site of Al-Ula.

Many leaders have expressed their pleasure in the resolution that was reached as part of the historic GCC Summit on Tuesday.

Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, has expressed his pleasure to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to participate in the 41st Session of GCC’s Supreme Council.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also called the 41st GCC summit “a positive summit unifying ranks.” He said the summit was “a positive summit unifying ranks and establishing fraternity under the patronage of King Salman and his Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman…. Changes and challenges surrounding us require genuine Gulf strength, cohesion and cooperation as well as Arab depth and stability.”

“In 1981, 40 years ago, our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan hosted the first GCC summit in Abu Dhabi, along with his brothers, the late GCC leaders… the march of GCC is the legacy left by our leaders for their peoples… And today the march of cooperation gets enhanced, and our fraternity gets entrenched, where the spirit of cooperation is being renewed in best interests of our people,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

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