First Qatari vehicles cross border into Saudi Arabia after Gulf detente

The Abu Samra-Salwa land crossing had been closed since mid-2017

A picture taken on January 9, 2021, shows a cars crossing the Qatari side of the Abu Samrah border into Saudi Arabia following the opening of crossings between the two countries.  Qatar and Saudi Arabia reopened their land border on January 9, Qatari sources told AFP, as they restore ties following a landmark deal to end a three and a half year rift. / AFP / KARIM JAAFAR

Qatari vehicles crossed into Saudi Arabia through a land border on Saturday for the first time since Arab states severed diplomatic and transport ties with Doha in mid-2017, Saudi state TV said, following a deal this week to restore relations.

"It's good the crisis has been resolved, and the warm welcome we had, and the happiness we see in our brothers," the driver of the second car to pass through the Abu Samra-Salwa crossing told Ekhbariya TV.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced a US-backed deal to end the dispute with Qatar during which Riyadh, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an embargo on Doha over allegations that it supports terrorism and is cosying up to Iran.

So far no flights have resumed between Qatar and the four Arab states. Qatar Airways on Thursday began rerouting some of its flights through Saudi airspace.

Measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus are in place on both sides of the Saudi-Qatar land border.

All arrivals into Qatar crossing at Abu Samra must present a negative Covid-19 test, take a new test at the border and quarantine for a week in one of a number of selected hotels, the Qatar News Agency said.

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