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Monday, January 24, 2022

De-facto Saudi ruler MBS in Qatar for first visit since 2017 GCC crisis


Saudi Arabia reportedly approached its Gulf allies including Qatar to request ammunition to repel attacks from Houthi rebels.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] arrived in Qatar on Wednesday in his first visit to the Gulf state since the 2017 GCC crisis.

MBS’s visit comes as part of a tour in the Gulf region ahead of the 42nd session of the annual GCC summit, scheduled to take place on 14 December in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s king invites Qatar’s Amir Tamim to GCC summit in Riyadh

The Saudi royal met with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani upon his arrival to Qatar, where they discussed Doha-Riyadh relations and means to enhance them post GCC crisis.

Sheikh Tamim and MBS met several times ahead of the latest meeting, though all meet ups took place outside of Qatar.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade.

However, the latest visit exhibits warming ties between the two countries since the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration in January this year by the GCC and Egypt, which marked the end of the three-year regional dispute.

Steps towards warming ties

In November, Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia was moved further towards the kingdom, expanding the peninsula’s geographical boundaries.

Khawr al Udayd is located in Al Wakrah Municipality in southeast Qatar, on the border with Saudi Arabia. The Qatari flag was raised following the agreement with the kingdom on demarcating the border between both nations.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the Wall Street Journal [WSJ] said that Saudi Arabia reached out to Qatar along with other Gulf and European allies for ammunition. The report stated that it requested from the US hundreds of Patriot interceptors to repel attacks from Houthi rebels.

In August, Qatari and Saudi delegations met to establish a coordination council to advance bilateral relations and partnerships between the two Gulf nations as part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 and Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

The same month also saw Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud saying relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar were “very good”.

Amir Tamim also appointed Bandar Mohamed Abdullah Al Attiyah in August as the country’s first ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the first such appointment since the 2017 GCC crisis erupted.

This came two months after Doha received its first Saudi Ambassador Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan in June, which was seen as a major step toward restoring ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Sheikh Tamim has also participated in the Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Riyadh in October at the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince.

The participation of Sheikh Tamim in Riyadh was yet another indicator of developing relations between Doha and Riyadh, both of which were involved in a bitter dispute that left Qatar blockaded for three years.

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