Questions being raised regarding the presence of the bodybuilder, with claims he was being used to trigger escalations in the region.
Bahraini bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad has been reportedly arrested by Qatari authorities for breaching its territorial waters during a “fishing trip”, Manama’s foreign ministry announced on Sunday.
The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the arrest and calling on Qatari authorities to “immediately” release Al-Haddad and his companions. Moreover, the ministry has also called on Qatar “to stop attacking Bahraini fishermen at sea and unfairly arresting them”.
According to the foreign ministry, the bodybuilding champion who also represents Manama’s Ministry of Interior “was on a fishing cruise with a number of his companions in the Bahraini territorial waters”.
Also commenting on the incident in an interview with Sky News Arabia, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said he hoped the arrest was an “individual case”.
“I obviously saw the news and, sometimes when a crisis ends, especially if it was complicated and deep with many hard feelings, there will be residue which I hope will be handled rapidly. We are heading towards a positive path.”
People on social media have questioned news about the arrest of the bodybuilder and his presence in Qatar’s territorial waters, especially after previous recorded breaches by Bahraini fishermen during the months of November and December.
The news comes almost a week after Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt signed the Al Ula Declaration which marked the end of the blockade that the quartet imposed on the Doha in 2017.
Prior to the deal, the UAE and Bahrain appeared to be resistant to any reconciliation with Qatar.
Virginia-based news website Axios reported that The White House lobbied the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt as they had shown less enthusiasm to reconcile with Qatar, unlike Saudi Arabia.
The Washington Post also reported that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had disagreed over ending the blockade, as Riyadh “wanted to end the blockade and didn’t want to have this issue remain on its plate as the Biden Administration comes into office”.
While the declaration has not been made public, it marked the end of the dispute and was followed by announcements of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain opening up their airspace after over three years for Qatar’s flights to freely travel through.