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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Qatar, Saudi Arabia establish ‘coordination council’ in latest step towards warming ties


Qatar-Saudi ties have been on a path of improvement since the signing of the Al Ula declaration in January that ended a 2017 Gulf blockade.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are set to establish a coordination council to advance bilateral relations and partnerships of the two Gulf nations as a part of both the Saudi’s Vision 2030 and the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State and Acting Foreign Minister, Musaed Bin Mohammed Al Aiban convened in the Saudi city of Neom on Wednesday to sign an amended protocol for the establishment of the Qatari-Saudi Coordination Council.

The council, the latest in steps to rapprochement, will be co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. It will also include the membership of high-ranking officials from the two countries.

According to to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now “very good”.

Doha appointed its newest envoy to Riyadh in August, marking the official restoration of diplomatic ties between the two states after a major three-year dispute.

Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani appointed Bandar Mohamed Abdullah Al Attiyah as the country’s first ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the first such appointment since the 2017 GCC crisis erupted.

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

Return of ties

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Doha in 2017 and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the country over allegations that it supports terrorism – a claim Qatar has vehemently and consistently denied.

The 2017 dispute has been described as the worst crisis in the history of the GCC. However, since the signing of the declaration in January, ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular have continued to warm.

Diplomats and officials of both countries have held regular meetings both in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with travel resuming to normal for citizens.

There have also been regular phone conversations and meetings between Qatar’s Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Back in January, a public and warm embrace between the two during Amir Tamim’s first trip to the neighbouring kingdom in three years, instantly signalled the return of somewhat normal ties.

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