The state media of Saudi Arabia reported that the kingdom has reopened its common border with Qatar so that the latter's citizens can attend hajj. Both countries have earlier accused each other of politicizing this ritual. Entry of Qatari citizens was facilitated after Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, held a sudden meeting with Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a deposed Qatari royal at Jeddah. Saudi state television broadcast the two men smiling for the cameras. This branch of the Qatari family was ousted from the country's throne in 1972. It was done through a palace coup.
Qatar did not make any official comment regarding this issue until Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the country's foreign minister, was questioned by reporters on this particular issue. He said that although he welcomed the decision made by Saudi Arabia, the measures should also include the full lifting of the blockade.
The Saudi Press Agency, an official media branch of the kingdom, reported that pilgrims from Qatar will be permitted to enter Saudi Arabia by land. These pilgrims will then be transported by flight to Saudi airports in al-Ahsa and Dammam. All expenses will be borne by the king. The Saudi king has also ordered that the Saudi national airline be sent to Doha, the capital city of Qatar so that Qatari pilgrims could fly to Jeddah, the city closest to Mecca. The king will host them at his own expense. It was reported by Saudi state television that about 100 Qataris have arrived at the land border on August 17.
Sheik Abdullah, the deposed Qatari royal, has been a Saudi resident for many years. He plays no role in the Qatar administration. According to Gerd Nonneman of Georgetown University, his last official position was as head of the camel racing and equestrian federation during the 1970s and the 1980s. Nonneman added that Sheikh Abdullah is no way any kind of envoy of Qatar. No official deal was struck. The academic described it as a propaganda ploy by the Saudis to catch the Qataris on the wrong foot.
It was reported that Sheikh Abdullah told the Saudi prince that ties which exist between the two kingdoms can be regarded as 'brotherly' and linked in history. It is believed that the Saudi Arabian crown prince responded the same way, highlighting historical links between the two royal families. The worst affected of the embargo were mixed nationality families. Students from Qatar were forced to come back, some even foregoing their examinations.