The reopening of Saudi Arabia's borders and airspace to Qatar, which was announced on the eve of the 41st GCC Summit, is seen as a key step to revive economic ties of both countries, a business council official has said.

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani led the Qatari delegation, which attended the summit held on Tuesday in the city of Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia. This was a “welcome development” towards resolving the economic blockade imposed on Qatar by its Arab neighbours in June 5, 2017, according to Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed. According to al-Sayed, the developments announced during the summit, is seen to create a “positive effect” on the economies of both countries. He said the Qatar-Saudi border in Abu Samra is a strategic corridor where a large majority of Saudi exports to Qatar pass through.

“Qatar has managed to overcome the economic impact of the blockade, and has emerged stronger because of its fiscal and economic reforms, as well as the many initiatives it has implemented in the past three years to transform the country into a robust and self-sufficient state in the GCC region. The opening of the Abu Samra border is expected to boost Qatar’s economic growth now that trade ties with Saudi Arabia is expected to resume."

Al-Sayed pointed out the reopening of Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia “will create “a new wave of business opportunities,” citing “the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir had played a key role in ending the Gulf crisis.”

“Resumption of air travel to Saudi Arabia will be significant for Qatar Airways as this will revive the travel and tourism industry, especially in Qatar. People in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, especially across the border, love Qatar and they travel frequently to the country, particularly during the weekends.

“Prior to the blockade, hotels in Qatar record high occupancy rates from Thursday because of local tourist inflow from the GCC. Qatar is accessible from Saudi’s Eastern province in just a few hours, so we hope that tourist influx from this area would resume soon, and this is the perfect time to enjoy the tourism destinations across the country. If other neighbouring countries follow suit, it would be a ‘win-win’ situation for all concerned,” al-Sayed told Gulf Times earlier on Tuesday.

“Aside from the blockade, Qatar also hurdled the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government was able to protect both its citizens and expatriates from the infection. With the ongoing vaccination campaign, this only provides a glimpse of the positive direction the country is headed this 2021,” he added.

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