Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Saturday reopened their land border as they restored ties following a landmark deal to end a three-and-a-half-year rift.
Saudi Arabia shut its side of Qatar’s only land border in June 2017 as part of a package of sanctions it said was a response to Doha’s backing radical Muslim groups and closeness to Iran.
Qatar has denied the charges.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents saw vehicles making the crossing on Saturday.
A Qatari source said traffic at the Abu Samrah crossing, 120km south of Doha, had resumed at about 7am.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, all of which also imposed embargoes on travel and trade, had agreed to lift the restrictions at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the kingdom on Tuesday.
The day before the summit, Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Nasser Al Sabah had announced on state television that a deal had been reached to “open the airspace, and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar.”
Qatar Airways and Saudi Airlines on Saturday announced on Twitter that they would resume flights between their countries from today.
Only a trickle of vehicles arrived at the palm tree-lined, whitewashed land border post to make the short crossing into Saudi Arabia after news broke that the frontier had reopened.
A smaller number made the journey from the kingdom into Qatar, where strict measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 have been imposed.
“I’m very happy the border is open again,” Qatari Jaber al-Marri said as he approached a checkpoint in his Toyota Land Cruiser sports utility vehicle, adding that he had loved ones in the neighboring kingdom.
“A lot of Qataris have relatives in Saudi Arabia,” he said, holding a negative COVID-19 test report. “The coming days will be better.”
Qatar has announced strict coronavirus control measures for those arriving from Saudi Arabia. Doha is to require travelers to present a negative coronavirus test result, undergo another test at the frontier and quarantine in a government-approved hotel for one week.
A helicopter belonging to the Qatari health service shuttled supplies between Doha and the border, an AFP correspondent reported.
As it was the weekend, cargo haulage did not appear to have resumed.
Qatari Hamad al-Marri, who also drove a Land Cruiser, said he was excited to go hunting with falcons in Saudi Arabia, a popular pastime.
Several drivers gathered at a gas station close to the Qatari exit point just hours after the Kuwaiti announcement of a detente between Qatar and its erstwhile rivals.
“It’s a great joy, I bought this new car, a Land Cruiser, in order to go and celebrate with my relatives in Saudi Arabia,” said Zaid Muhammad al-Marri, 23, a Qatari with a Saudi Arabian mother.
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