The UAE will reopen air, land and sea borders with Qatar starting Saturday, state news agency, Wam announced.

In a statement issued on Friday, Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the UAE will hold bilateral talks to phase out the boycott in effect against Qatar since June 5, 2017. This follows the signing of the Al Ula Declaration on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia at the GCC summit.

He said that the UAE will work to reopen all land, sea and airports for incoming and outgoing movement. Relevant authorities in the UAE have been instructed with these measures, which will take effect on January 9, he added.

The move follows the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with Qatar after four Gulf states resolved their nearly four-year-long dispute with their neighbour. UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Thursday that trade and transport could resume with Qatar within a week. “We are extremely, extremely supportive and positive about the declaration,” said Dr Gargash reaffirming that economic ties with Qatar will jumpstart soon.

UAE residents are ecstatic as the UAE announced reopening of its air, land and sea borders with Qatar.

Abdul Qader, a long-time resident, is looking forward to travelling to Doha soon.

“My daughter, son-in-law and grandchild live there. With my wife, I used to frequently visit Doha from here till mid of 2017. Later, we used to travel there (to Qatar) from Kerala. At times, we will plan holidays and get together at our ancestral home in Kerala. This is a major relief now,” Qader said.

Mahesh Menon, another expat, is happy to be again visiting his father.

“My father moved to Qatar five years ago. He has not been able to come and visit me for the last two years or so. I am glad that now we can travel back and forth. This is really good news for many people like me who have close family members living in Qatar,” the 20-year-old said.

Maria Berkman, a homemaker, noted that the announcement will enhance people-to-people relations.

“My relative Jasmine lives there. They used to visit us. Jasmine became a mother last March. We couldn’t travel and meet the newborn. My kids Anna and Rachel are very keen on seeing the newest member of the family. Now we hope to travel soon. It will also be a nice experience,” Maria said.

Iqbal Ali is counting days to arrange a road trip to meet his brother Sajad P. Aliyar.

“I used to hit the road with my friends. It was a joyride for me, especially during Eid. I have missed those meetings with my dear brother for years now. This announcement is a New Year gift for people like me. We will now forge stronger ties than before.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the signing of the ‘solidarity and stability’ agreement that will see Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt open their air, land and sea borders with Qatar. The agreement paves the way for commercial airlines to resume regional connectivity, which will reduce flight times and provide essential air links to families and businesses across the region.

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

Though UAE airlines have not announced any dates to resume flights to Qatar, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it welcomes diplomatic ties between the UAE and Qatar being restored. “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. Etihad will announce any developments when confirmed,” said a spokesperson.


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