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Qatar Airways says to fly over Saudi for first time since Gulf row

Airspace to Qatar was previously closed due to the 2017 Gulf crisis [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2021

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Qatar Airways will fly over Saudi Arabia for the first time since the Gulf crisis.

A scheduled Qatar Airways service will fly over Saudi Arabia Thursday for the first time since the Gulf crisis, which saw the kingdom close its airspace to Doha, the airline said.

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, allegations Doha has consistently denied.

The quartet agreed to lift the restrictions at a Gulf Co-operation Council summit on Tuesday in the Saudi desert city of Al-Ula, after energetic diplomacy by outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration.

"This evening #QatarAirways began to reroute some flights through Saudi airspace with the first scheduled flight expected to be QR 1365, Doha to Johannesburg at 20:45pm (1745 GMT) this evening, 7 January," the airline wrote on Twitter.

On January 4, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah announced on state TV that a deal had been agreed to "open the airspace and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar, starting from this evening".

Kuwait was a key mediator in the diplomatic crisis.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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