Saudi Arabia has opened registration for both Qatari citizens and residents who wish to perform the Umrah, or minor pilgrimage, during the holy month of Ramadan.
In the past couple of Hajj seasons, Saudi Arabia launched a specified registration website for Qatari Hajj pilgrims, allocated several planes to transport them to Mecca and worked to ensure their well-being during their pilgrimage.
Despite these provisions, Qatar says its citizens and residents face “obstacles and restrictions.”
Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced online registration for both Qatari citizens and residents to allow them to perform the seasonal Umrah or minor pilgrimage, during the holy month of Ramadan.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt decided in 2017 to cut off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and terror financing.
Despite the boycott, Saudi Arabia has insisted that the issue with the Qatari government would not affect Qatari citizens and residents who want to visit Mecca and Medina to perform their religious rites.
Two months after the boycott came into effect in June 2017, the Salwa border crossing was briefly opened to pilgrims and at least seven Saudi Arabian flights were allocated to transport them directly from Doha. However, Qatar did not provide authorization for the planes to land at Hamad International Airport.
During the same year, Qatar’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs blocked Hajj registrations for citizens and residents on their website. In response, Saudi authorities opened its own registration link to ensure Qatari pilgrims could register their data. They then had to open another link after reports of Qatar blocking access to the initial registration from inside Qatar.
In 2018, Qataris were ableto visit Mecca to perform Umrahafter registering their legal information upon arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
This year, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia launched a website specifically for Qatari pilgrims where they can register their data and arrange their requirements for pilgrimage directly. Qatari pilgrims can register onhttps://qatariu.haj.gov.saand can arrive at either King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah or Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina. Qatari residents can register for the seasonal Umrah pilgrimage onhttps://eservices.haj.gov.sa/eservices3.
Despite the several provisions given by Saudi authorities to facilitate the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage for all those residing in Qatar, the Qatari National Human Rights Committee claimed that the measures were “insufficient” and called for the lifting of all “obstacles and restrictions imposed on Qatari citizens and residents wishing to perform their religious rituals.”
Last year, at least 500 Qataris arrived in Saudi Arabia via Kuwait to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. They were welcomed by authorities and given special buses to transport them to Mecca as well as dedicated camps in the tent city of Mina in Mecca.