Qatar has called on Saudi Arabia to remove “obstacles and restrictions” on its residents who wish to perform the hajj pilgrimage, as the two Gulf neighbors remain entangled in a diplomatic dispute. In 2016, some 12,000 Qataris performed the ritual, one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable member of the faith is required to perform in his or her lifetime. However, soon after, Riyadh and its allies cut ties with, and imposed a blockade on, Doha primarily over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and close relations with the Shi’ite regime Iran. Qatar’s plea came after Saudi Arabia – location of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina – announced an electronic registration system for Qatari residents to perform the Umrah, a minor pilgrimage during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan. However, Doha referred to the measure as “nominal” and inadequate, as air travel between the two countries remains banned and the only land crossing between the states remains shut.
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