Hawzah News Agency (Doha, Qatar) – Abdullah al-Kaabi of the state-run Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saturday that Riyadh had shut down an electronic system used by Qatari travel agencies to obtain permits for pilgrims.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, in a scheme generally believed to have been orchestrated by Riyadh. The four countries accused Qatar of sponsoring “terrorism” and destabilizing the region, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.
"There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for Hajj," said al-Kaabi .
"Registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed, and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions."
Saudi Arabia has denied the accusations, saying its diplomatic dispute with Doha is not stopping Qataris from making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official at Saudi Arabia's Hajj ministry accused Qatar of of trying to “politicize the Hajj.”
Riyadh has said Qatari pilgrims can arrive on any airline other than Qatar Airways.However, three travel agencies in Doha said they had stopped trying to sell Hajj packages,which can cost up to 120,000 riyals ($33,000).
"Last year we lost a lot of money as the crisis started after we had booked everything in Mecca and Medina and we had to pay people back," said a manager of one travel agency in Doha, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"This year, nobody is really trying as people have understood there is no way to go there in these circumstances," the official said.
Saudi Arabia temporarily opened the land border for Hajj last year, but not this year. Some 1,200 Qataris are eligible to perform the rituals under a quota system.
Hajj pilgrimage brings millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia every year.