RIYADH: Qatar-Saudi flights resumed on Monday as the neighbours normalise ties under a landmark agreement that ended a bitter three-year rift and allows families to reunite.
Saudi Arabia and its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017 slapped a blockade on Qatar that included closing airspace to the country over claims it backed Islamist groups and was too close to Iran — charges Doha has always denied.
The quartet agreed to lift the restrictions at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit last week in the Saudi desert city of Al-Ula, after a flurry of diplomatic activity by outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration.
The first commercial flight between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in three and a half years, a Qatar Airways service to Riyadh, took off from windswept Doha airport around 1100 GMT and touched down around 1200 GMT.
Families hugged and laughed as they were reunited in the gleaming arrivals hall of Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport where two men waited holding large bunches of flowers which they gave to two women who arrived with a child.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021