Ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom announced a gesture addressed to Israel.

Saudi Arabia's civil aviation authority said Friday the airspace would be "opened to all airlines that meet the authority's overflight requirements."

The move allows for an overflight for planes flying to and from Israel.

The US government was pleased: "President Biden welcomes and commends the historic decision by the Saudi Arabian leadership to open Saudi airspace to all civil airlines without discrimination, a decision that includes flights to and from Israel," said Biden's national Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

"This decision paves the way for a more integrated, stable and secure Middle East region, which is central to the security and prosperity of the United States and the U.S. people, and to the security and prosperity of Israel."

Almost two years ago, Saudi Arabia had already allowed an Israeli plane to fly over it on its way to Abu Dhabi and announced that planes from the United Arab Emirates to "all countries" would be allowed to use its airspace.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel had previously agreed to establish diplomatic relations through US mediation.

Relationships not normalized yet

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it will not establish official relations with Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

Biden is expected to advocate normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia during his visit to the kingdom.

Such a normalization is more likely to take place in small steps - as with the announcement of the opening of Saudi Arabian airspace.

For some time, Israel has been insisting on opening up the kingdom's airspace so that it can fly to destinations in Asia more quickly.

The Israeli authorities also want Muslim pilgrims from Israel to be able to travel directly to Saudi Arabia.

So far, they have had to make costly stopovers in third countries.

Arrival directly from Israel

This Friday, Biden will become the first US President in history to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

His predecessor Donald Trump had traveled the route in the opposite direction.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Biden is also likely to advocate for an increase in the country's oil production in order to lower the price of oil and curb inflation in the United States.

The visit to Saudi Arabia, the last stop on the President's Middle East trip, is politically sensitive.

The US President is due to meet controversial Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in the city of Jeddah on Saturday, although US intelligence reports say he was behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Before his election, Biden had said that Saudi Arabia should therefore be treated as a "pariah" state.