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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 January 2021

UAE to reopen air, land and sea borders with Qatar on Saturday

The decision comes after the signing of the Al Ula statement at the GCC summit in Saudi Arabia

UAE will work to reopen all land, sea and airports for incoming and outgoing transport, says Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Getty Images
UAE will work to reopen all land, sea and airports for incoming and outgoing transport, says Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Getty Images

The UAE will reopen air, land and sea borders with Qatar from Saturday.

Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said on Friday that the UAE will hold bilateral talks to begin to end all measures taken in relation to Qatar since June 5, 2017. This follows the signing of the Al Ula Statement on Tuesday at the GCC summit in Saudi Arabia.

He said that the UAE will work to reopen all land, sea and airports for incoming and outgoing transport, and that the relevant authorities in the UAE have been instructed with these measures, which will begin on January 9, Wam reported.

These measures would strengthen the unity and cohesion of the Gulf, his statement added.

The announcement on Friday came after a week in which Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed to restore relations. The Al Ula Statement was then signed by all participants - including Qatar - during the 41st GCC summit.

On Friday, the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said that scheduled and unscheduled flights between Qatar and the Emirates would resume on Saturday, "in co-ordination with the civil aviation authorities and national carriers in the UAE", according to Wam.

A spokeswoman for Etihad said the carrier welcomed the news.

"As airspace reopens, Etihad looks forward to recommencing services between Abu Dhabi and Doha and once again, supporting growth of trade and tourism between the two nations," added the spokeswoman.

"Etihad will announce any developments when confirmed."

Qatar Airways restarted flights through Saudi Arabian airspace on Thursday night.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Thursday that “practical measures” would soon be introduced to restore travel and trade links with Qatar.

He said “we expect to move very quickly on other issues”, including the reopening of embassies and consulates.

The UAE and fellow GCC countries Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, along with Egypt, cut ties with Doha in 2017.

Dr Gargash described the agreement signed in Al Ula on Tuesday as "strategic".

“The UAE is behind this deal, positive about re-establishing relations with Qatar within the GCC context," Dr Gargash said on Thursday.

"We want to do this faster rather than slower."

Hopes were raised of a thawing in relations when it was announced Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim would attend the GCC’s annual gathering.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, led the UAE delegation.

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Al Sabah said the desire for unity and reunification was emphasised during a phone call between Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of the summit.

Based on a proposal by Sheikh Nawaf, it was agreed that the air, land and sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be reopened.

It was also agreed that the signing of the statement at Al Ula would mark “the beginning of a bright page in fraternal relations”.

Kuwait and the US have been working on mediation to resolve the Qatar crisis but it was ultimately the hosting of the GCC Summit that brought about the breakthrough.

Updated: January 9, 2021 10:35 AM

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