Saudi Arabia to allow flights “from all countries” to cross its skies

Oil-rich kingdom announces it will now allow flights “from all countries” to fly through its airspace to reach UAE, days after Riyadh let the first direct Israeli commercial passenger flight use its skies to reach UAE.

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia on Wednesday gave permission for all flights to and from the United Arab Emirates to use its airspace, its state news agency reported, ahead of the expected launch of scheduled Israel-UAE flights.

An Israeli airliner chartered to carry US and Israeli delegations from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi flew over Saudi Arabia this week, the first official flight by an Israeli carrier over the kingdom.

The statement makes no mention of the kingdom’s rival, Iran, nor Qatar, which Saudi Arabia is currently boycotting. It is apparently a reference to the start of commercial flights from Israel to the UAE, as any direct flight between the two nations would need to use Saudi airspace to be commercially viable.

The Saudi Press Agency said the move comes in response to a “request by the UAE” for flights to and from the country.

Shortly after the Saudi statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli planes and flights from all other countries can fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He made no mention of Saudi Arabia but a direct flight from Israel involves crossing Saudi skies.

“This will reduce the cost of flights, it will shorten the time, this will greatly develop tourism, it will develop our economy,” Netanyahu said in a video statement released by his office.

“These are the fruits of real peace,” he added.