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Sunday, August 1, 2021

First Qatar Airways flight to enter Saudi airspace departs from Doha

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Just hours after a UAE official said movement was being made to resume travel and trade with Doha, Qatar Airways announced details of the first flight to enter Saudi airspace.

The first Qatar Airways passenger flight to use Saudi airspace since the Gulf Cooperation Council announced the lifting of a blockade on Qatar departed from Doha on Thursday evening.

Flight QR 1365 became the first Qatar flight to enter the neighbouring kingdom’s airspace in three years, sources from Hamad International Airport told Doha News.

“This evening Qatar Airways began to reroute some flights through Saudi airspace with the first scheduled flight expected to be QR 1365, Doha to Johannesburg at 20.45 this evening, 7 January,” the national carrier confirmed in a statement.‬

The latest development came hours after reports confirmed travel and trade between Qatar and the former blockading quartet would resume within days.

The United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash earlier on Thursday said measures concerning travel, transportation and trade between the Gulf and Qatar are expected within one week.

Timeline: How the GCC crisis erupted over three years

The UAE official said bilateral working groups between Doha and the quartet are working on this matter, according to local UAE outlet The National.

The crisis was triggered in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with Doha and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade over accusations it “supports terrorism”. Qatar has consistently and categorically rejected the accusations, saying the move against Doha was an attempt to infringe on its sovereignty.

On Tuesday, the countries involved in the dispute announced they would fully restore diplomatic relations after signing the Al-Ula Declaration during a ceremony at the annual GCC summit.

The declaration stipulated several collaborations, among them providing GCC citizens with the freedom of movement, investment, employment and equal opportunities in education and healthcare across the region.


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