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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Qataris drove across the land border into Saudi Arabia on Saturday for the first time in more than three years.
“We’re returning to our second home country,” said the first Qatari to enter the Kingdom through the Abu Samra-Salwa border crossing. “The process and passing through was easy, and port authorities are cooperative and welcoming.”
The driver of the second car through the checkpoint said: “It’s good the crisis has been resolved, and the warm welcome we had, and the happiness we see in our brothers.”
At least 70 vehicles passed through the crossing into the Kingdom on the first day and 20 traveled in the other direction, the crossing’s customs director Ali Al-Aklabi said.
Preventive measures and health checks to contain the spread of the coronavirus are in place on both sides of the Saudi-Qatar land border.
Qataris entering Saudi Arabia must produce evidence of a negative test, take a further test at a health center set up at the crossing, and self-isolate in the Kingdom for up to seven days.
In the other direction, all arrivals into Qatar must also present a negative COVID-19 test, take a new test at the border and quarantine for one week in one of a number of selected hotels.
The Kingdom last week ended the trade, travel and diplomatic boycott of Doha imposed in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
The UAE said last week that travel and trade links could resume within a week of the deal, but restoring diplomatic ties required more time as parties work to rebuild trust.
Saudia, the Kingdom’s national carrier, will resume flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Doha on Monday, the airline said on Saturday.
Qatar Airways said it would resume flights to Riyadh on Monday, Jeddah next Thursday and Dammam next Saturday.
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