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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Qatar-Saudi land border crossing ‘preparing to reopen’: Sources


The Salwa crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been closed since the blockade was imposed in 2017.

Employees at the shared Qatari-Saudi Abu Samra land border, also known as Salwa crossing have been preparing for an imminent reopening of the entry port after more than three-years of closure, sources told Doha News.

Reopening the Qatari-Saudi border would indicate a strong sign to ending the regional dispute, which is hoped would ease the movement for citizens of all countries involved, especially families that have been separated for years due to the rift.

The shared border was permanently shut by Saudi Arabia three years ago when it imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar. 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt’s restrictions on Doha meant Qatari vessels, airlines and even citizens, were banned from entering their territories.

Read also: GCC reconciliation talks ‘only between Qatar and Saudi Arabia’

While the Salwa border was closed in June 2017, the official permanent closure was announced in December, six months after the blockading quarter severed ties with Qatar over false accusations it supports “terrorism”. Qatar has consistently and vehemently denied those allegations.

Authorities have yet to confirm a reopening but the latest development comes as the region anticipates a resolution on Tuesday when Gulf leaders are expected to gather in Saudi Arabia for the 41st GCC Summit.  

News of the possible reopening has circulated since December when countries involved in the GCC dispute announced ongoing negotiations to resolve the crisis. 

On December 2, following Senior White House advisor and US President Donald Trump’s son in-law Jared Kushner’s visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, sources revealed that a breakthrough in the crisis was imminent, adding that Riyadh planned to open its land borders.

Also in December, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani confirmed Doha has been negotiating with Saudi Arabia only as it “represents the countries involved in the dispute”.

The Saudi Press Agency [SPA] also issued a statement saying that Riyadh is committed to its role in ensuring the GCC’s unity.

“Since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981 AD, the Kingdom has embarked on a balanced approach that supports every effort and supports every move that contributes to achieving common goals and aspirations,” read the statement.

In 2001, Saudi Arabia and Qatar announced the demarcation of the border after signing an agreement that ended 35 years of a territorial conflict between the neighbouring Gulf states.

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