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Watch live: Qatar can fly over Saudi Arabia after blockade ends

written by Adam Thorn | January 5, 2021

Qatar Airways will be able to fly over Saudi Arabia for the first time in three and a half years after the country agreed to open its border following a long-standing blockade.

The breakthrough, set to be enacted within hours, comes of the eve of a crucial Gulf summit.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar, accusing the country of supporting terrorism. The resulting ‘blockade’ meant many aircraft had to fly around Saudi Arabia, adding hours of flying time.

You can see a before and after animation here:

And you can view the live air traffic here:



The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said that Tuesday’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit would restore cohesion among nations, adding that “security, stability and prosperity” were a huge priority.

“We stand before a historic summit in Al-Ula, through which we restore our Gulf cohesion and ensure that security, stability and prosperity is our top priority. We have more work ahead and we are moving in the right direction,” Gargash said on Twitter.

Former US Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, added, “It is the beginning of a lasting solution. More work to be done, especially to move past the incredibly bitter feelings this needless blockade stoked between people and communities in the Gulf.”

The breakthrough significantly follows the UN’s top court ruling in October that Qatar could challenge the blockage at the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The four countries had argued that the latter body did not have the authority to rule against the aircraft ban.

The following day, Qatar Airways announced plans to press forward with its lawsuit against the Saudi-led bloc. Referring to the blockade measures as “abusive and arbitrary”, the company added that the move has “devastated our carefully planned decades-long program for investment and growth in those countries.”

At the time, the Saudi-led coalition accused Qatar of covertly sponsoring terrorism, triggering a severing of diplomatic ties between the island nation and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In the three years since, Qatar-registered aircraft have not been able to cross through bloc state airspace, leading to significant logistical difficulties for the airline.

Analysts have also suggested the move has pushed Doha closer to Tehran, with Al Jazeera reporting Qatar pays about $133 million annually for use of Iranian airspace.

Watch live: Qatar can fly over Saudi Arabia after blockade ends Comment

  • Jeff Carswell


    Great news to see some common sense finally having arrived.

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