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Posted On: 19 August 2018 02:03 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:19 pm

Hajj access to Qatar citizens blocked by Saudi: Official

ILQ Staff
ILQ Staff
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Makkah

Qatar on Sunday said its citizens were unable to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

"There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for Hajj," a government official told AFP.

"Registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions," added the official.

Riyadh has banned all flights to and from Doha and has imposed a blockade on Qatar.

The Qatari official said the border closure and the lack of diplomatic missions and direct flights between the two countries effectively meant that no Qataris could undertake the pilgrimage.

Qatar has been blockaded since June 2017 by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Sanctions imposed by Riyadh as part of the dispute stop Qataris from travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Under a quota system established by Saudi Arabia, some 1,200 Qatari citizens should be able to attend the Hajj, which attracts two million Muslims from around the world each year.

But many Qataris have complained that registration on a Saudi Arabian ministry website specifically for the pilgrimage has proved impossible.

Abdullah Al-Kaabi of the Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saudi Arabia had shut down an electronic system used by travel agencies to obtain permits for pilgrims from Qatar.

"There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for Hajj," he told Reuters. "Registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed, and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions."

'LOST MONEY'

Three travel agencies in Doha told Reuters they had stopped trying to sell Hajj packages, which can cost up to 120,000 riyals ($33,000).

"Last year we lost a lot of money as the crisis started after we had booked everything in Mecca and Medina and we had to pay people back," said a manager of one travel agency in Doha, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"This year, nobody is really trying as people have understood there is no way to go there in these circumstances."

A travel agency catering to migrant labourers in Doha said that had hit business.

"We sell Hajj journeys by bus with accommodation for around 12,000 riyals," its manager said. "But as nobody can get visas and land borders are closed, it is zero bookings this year."

Were you looking forward to performing Hajj this year? How does this ban affect you? What are your thoughts on this travel restriction to Makkah? Do let us know what you think in our Comments section. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!

Source: The Peninsula