Saudia says Doha has failed to grant permission for its planes to land and fetch pilgrims

Updated 21 August 2017
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Saudia says Doha has failed to grant permission for its planes to land and fetch pilgrims

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian Airlines had been unable to transport Qatari Hajj pilgrims from Doha as promised because Qatari authorities have failed to authorize its aircraft to land at the Hamad International Airport, the Kingdom’s national carrier said on Sunday.
Saudia Director General Saleh Al-Jasser said that several days have passed since the airline submitted its request for landing permission, but Doha authorities have not acted on it so far. The statement was carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Al-Jasser said Saudia sent the request after King Salman ordered the airline to dispatch flights to Doha to transport Qatari pilgrims, in response to the mediation of Qatari Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, who met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on August 17 and with the King the next day.
King Salman has also ordered the Saudi land border with Qatar opened for Qatari pilgrims to enter the Kingdom to perform Hajj in Makkah.
His directive includes providing vehicles to transport the pilgrims and accommodation, as special guests of the King.
King Salman’s opening of the Salwa border crossing and directive to send flights to transport Qatari pilgrims has been widely welcomed, but played down by Qatari authorities and media.
In a tweet on Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani expressed his regrets over his government’s inaction on Saudia's request for landing permission.
“Brothers and sons: I regret the blocking of Saudi aircraft from Doha (to transport pilgrims) to perform Hajj, and I hope that the brothers in Qatar cooperate to facilitate Hajj for (Qatari) citizens,” he tweeted. Nonetheless, Sheikh Abdullah urged Qataris who wish to perform Hajj to avail themselves of the land transport option since the Salwa border crossing is now open to all pilgrims.
“With Allah’s permission, the wish of all those who want to perform Hajj will come true and opportunities to enter the Kingdom are available via land ports (Salwa border crossing) and Al-Ahsa and Dammam Airports,” he said.
He said pilgrims can call 00966122367999, the hotline number of the operations center created by the Saudi government specifically for Qatari pilgrims, visitors and businesspeople.
In an earlier tweet, Sheikh Abdullah said he requested that center during his meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week.
“The king, as usual, approved my request and ordered the allocation of a special operations room to handle Qatari affairs run by a Saudi crew under my supervision, in the light of the severed ties (between the two countries),” he said.

Rogue brother
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt closed their air spaces to Qatari flights after cutting diplomatic ties with Doha, whom they accused of continuously harboring and supporting extremist ideologues and terrorists. They also accused Qatar of maintaining close ties with Iran despite being a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The six-member council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, had repeatedly accused Iran of fomenting strife and sedition and arming militias in Arab countries.
Aside from closing their air spaces, sea and land routes to Qatar, the four countries — called the Anti-Terror Quartet or ATQ — also said foreign airlines would have to seek permission for overflights to and from Qatar.
Qatar has denied the charges and has refused to compromise, even though the ATQ has reduced its 13-point demand to six principles.
The revised demand include commitments to combat extremism and terrorism, prevent financing and safe havens for such groups, and suspend all acts of provocation and speeches inciting hatred or violence.
 


FII delegates pay tribute to Khashoggi, say ‘terrible act not part of our DNA’

Updated 23 October 2018
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FII delegates pay tribute to Khashoggi, say ‘terrible act not part of our DNA’

RIYADH: Speakers at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh did not shy away from addressing what could otherwise have been the elephant in the room: The death of Jamal Khashoggi.
Numerous speakers had pulled out of the event over the death of the Saudi journalist in the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Khashoggi’s death was the result of a “rogue operation” by people acting beyond the scope of Saudi authorities, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Sunday.
Many speakers due to attend the FII — mostly those from Western organizations — had pulled out due to allegations the Saudi government was complicit in Khashoggi’s death.
But speakers at the FII on Tuesday tackled the issue head-on, calling the death “abhorrent” and promising justice. 
“These are difficult days for us in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are going through a crisis, of sorts, resulting from the very regrettable and abhorrent incident that took place in Turkey,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told the audience.
“Nobody in the Kingdom can justify it or explain it. From the leadership on down, we are very upset about what has happened,” he added. 
“The king has made it clear that there will be an investigation, justice and retribution to those responsible.”
The prominent Saudi business executive Lubna Olayan also remarked on the case, saying that the “terrible acts reported in recent weeks are alien to our culture and DNA.” 
Al-Falih said that, despite the ongoing “crisis” due to the case, the ambitious reforms that Saudi Arabia is undertaking would continue. 
“The Kingdom is in the midst of a historic transformation of unprecedented proportions, and the train has moved, and it has moved deliberately toward a transformation journey that will not be stopped,” he said. 
“Those partners who are here with us today, to continue their journey with us are certainly going to look back and find out how the lessons have been learned from the incident, but at the same time how committed the Kingdom is to its partners who stay the course.”