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Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

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Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates
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The latest news after Arab Gulf countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and suspended Doha-bound flights.

Arab Gulf


The latest developments since several countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar on June 5. (All times GMT+3)

17 September 2017

6:30PM - UK to supply Qatar with 24 Typhoon fighter jets

  • Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and the United Kingdom's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon signed a letter of intent on Sunday in Doha to purchase 24 Typhoon aircraft.
  • "This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK's strategic partners. This is an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence cooperation between our two countries," said Fallon.
  • "We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies." 

5:45pm - Qatar's FM calls on world leaders to do more against terrorism

  • Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said the world leaders are not doing enough to combat terrorism.
  • Speaking at the US-Islamic World Forum in New York City, he said: "Terrorism is a scary phenomenon... violence and hatred have helped a lot in the eruption and creation of the terrorist organisations. The international community and the world in general has not done enough against terrorism."

12:00pm - Qatari stocks continues to slide

  • Qatar's stock market headed for its tenth straight losing session on Sunday while Saudi Arabia's index bucked an otherwise weak region because of gains in the petrochemical sector.
  • On Friday, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said Qatar was ready to sit at the negotiating table to try to end a dispute with its Gulf Arab neighbours. But in the absence of a positive response from the Saudi-led coalition boycotting Qatar, investors did not take the remarks as a sign that the dispute was moving closer to resolution.
  • Qatar's index slipped 0.5 percent with Doha Bank dropping 2.6 percent.
  • In Saudi Arabia, all but one of the 14 listed petrochemical shares rose after Brent crude closed near a five-month peak on Friday. 

11:20am - Qatar's foreign minister to keynote US-Islamic World forum

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani will deliver a keynote address at the US-Islamic World Forum in New York on Sunday. 
  • The annual forum, now in its 13th year, is organised by the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the state of Qatar. This year's theme is "Crisis and Cooperation" and discussion topics include ending conflicts in the Middle East and the future of pluralism in the Arab world. 

16 September 2017

6:25pm - Food price inflation eases in Qatar during August

  • Qatar's government data showed on Saturday that food price inflation eased in the country during August, suggesting the country was finding ways to reduce the impact of economic sanctions imposed by four Arab states.
  • Food and beverage prices climbed 4.5 percent from a year earlier in July, their fastest increase since at least 2014, and shot up 4.2 percent from the previous month.
  • In August, however, food and beverage prices only rose 2.8 percent from a year ago and fell back 0.6 percent from July, suggesting Qatar had succeeded in establishing new channels to obtain food economically.
  • Qatari shipping lines, which lost the use of Dubai as a trans-shipment centre because of the sanctions, have been establishing new services via Oman, Kuwait and the Indian subcontinent.
  • Qatari food processors have boosted their operations to make up for the disruption to imports.

9:05am - Qatar-France naval drill concludes

  • Qatar's naval forces have completed two days of maritime exercises with French forces.
  • Qatar's defence ministry said the joint drills were aimed at fighting terrorism, smuggling and keeping stability in the region. The exercises took place in Qatari regional waters

9:00am - Sheikh Tamim arrives in New York City

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thaniarrived in New York City on Friday evening to attend the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
  • US President Donald Trump is expected to address the assembly for the first time, and will meet with the leaders of several countries including Qatar.

8:30am – Qatar newspaper highlights emir's tour to Turkey, Europe

  • The Qatar daily newspaper Al Raya on Saturday highlighted the political significance of the emir's recent tour to France, Turkey, and Germany, saying talks dealt with key regional and international developments.
  • Turkey, Germany and France have lent support to Qatar's position andcalled for dialogue and negotiation to serve the interests of all parties, while warning against the language of escalation, threats, dictates and prejudice, Al Raya's editorial said.

7:00am – Rights group decries violation of education, employment rights

  • Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, chairman of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), said UAE universities have refused to provide Qatari students with documents relating to their education.
  • Al Marri also highlighted employment rights violations affecting expatriate staff who have been forced to leave their jobs in Qatar and return to their home countries. 
  • Describing the siege as "an illegal blockade", Al Marri said everyone who travels to Qatar could be subject to prison or financial fines. He also condemned the punishment of those who raise objections to the siege or call for dialogue.
  • NHRC said it has received 3,346 complaints as result of the siege on Qatar, including 620 complaints from affected families.

15 September 2017

10:07pm - Trump to meet Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim

  • US President Donald Trump will hold a meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting next week in New York, the White House said on Friday.
  • He will meet Sheikh Tamim on Tuesday, and leaders from Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom and Egypt on Wednesday, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

7:20pm - Macron urges lifting of embargo against Qatar

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has urged the lifting of a Saudi-led embargo on Qatar in effect since June.
  • Macron is calling for "the embargo measures affecting the people of Qatar, in particular families and students, to be lifted as quickly as possible," the president's office said in a statement on Friday after he met Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
  • Macron "expressed his concern over the tensions that threaten regional stability, undermining the political resolution of crises and our collective fight against terrorism," the statement said. 

1:10pm - Sheikh Tamim says Qatar ready to solve GCC crisis

  • Speaking at a press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said he is ready to sit at a negotiating table to solve the three-month-old crisis.
  • For her part, Merkel said that no solution was visible yet but Germany would like to help resolve the crisis.

14 September 2017

8:45pm - Turkey's President Erdogan hosts Qatar's emir

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim held talks in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his first trip abroad since the start of the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
  • The talks got under way on Thursday at Erdogan's presidential palace in the capital Ankara, the Turkish presidency said.
  • After visiting Turkey, Sheikh Tamim was due to visit Berlin on Friday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his first trip to a Western capital since the crisis began. Sheikh Tamim was also due in Paris for talks with the French president.

6:42pm - Turkey and Kuwait voice concern over Gulf crisis

  • Turkey and Kuwait have expressed concerns over the ongoing crisis between Saudi-led bloc and Qatar, with Turkey extending its full support to the mediation efforts carried out by the Kuwaiti emir to resolve the crisis.
  • This came following a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Kuwaiti counterpart in Ankara on Thursday.

2:41pm - 100 days have passed since the Gulf blockade was imposed

  • This week marks 100 days since four Arab states began a blockade against Qatar, sparking a diplomatic crisis.
  • Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, which it denies.
  • Saudi Arabia usually takes the lead in Gulf affairs, but what is interesting this time is the prominence of the UAE.

13 September 2017

6:00pm - Qatar's emir to meet Turkish President Erdogan

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will hold talks in Ankara on Thursday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Doha in its dispute with Gulf Arab neighbours.
  • Turkey's presidency announced Sheikh Tamim's trip in a statement on Wednesday but gave no details of the talks, which will coincide with a visit to Ankara by the prime minister of Kuwait, which has sought to mediate in the Gulf Arab dispute. 

3:00pm - Negative rating credit for GCC, says Moody's Investors

  • A three-month dispute between Qatar and four Arab countries has had a negative impact on credit for all six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with Qatar and Bahrain facing the worst impact, Moody's Investors Service has said.
  • More than three months after three Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, the crisis has created uncertainty in the region, the ratings agency said.

12 September 2017

11:30pm - Art exhibition '100 Days of Blockade' unveiled in Doha

  • Qatar Museums launched on Tuesday the first stage of the "100 Days of Blockade" art initiative, unveiling five emotive artworks for citizens and residents at Doha Fire Station.
  • The powerful artworks, which are showcased on the facade of the Fire Station building, reflect each artists personal take on the blockade.
  • The medium of choice was graffiti, evoking its origins as a form of activism and self-expression, which is easily accessible by the broader community.
  • The artists involved in this initiative are Mubarak Al Malik, Ali Al Kuwari and Thamer Al Dosari from Qatar; Dimitrje Bugarski from Serbia and Assil Diab from Sudan.

11:05pm - Qatar-Gulf crisis boils over at Cairo meeting

  • Diplomats from Qatar and the four states blockading the Gulf nation have exchanged heated words at an Arab League meeting in Cairo on live television.
  • During his opening speech, Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi referred to Iran as an "honourable country" and said ties had warmed with its neighbour since the blockade.
  • In response, Ahmed al-Kattan, Saudi Arabia's envoy to the Arab League, said: "Congratulations to Iran and soon, God willing, you will regret it.
  • The Qatari diplomat lamented Kattan's tone in the exchange, saying: "[It] is all threats and I don't think he has the authority to threaten and speak like this."
  • The exchange then descended into a row during which Kattan and Muraikhi each told the other to be quiet.

7:30pm - Minister: Qatar has not missed any oil or gas shipments 

  • Qatar's Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada said on Tuesday his country had not missed any oil or gas shipments despite the blockade imposed by its neighbours.
  • "During this blockade, we have never missed a single shipment of oil or gas to any of our consuming partners," he said at an event in the capital Doha.
  • "That shows how committed Qatar is, not only to our economy here and reliability but also to the consuming countries because this is a very strategic commodity," Sada said.

5:20pm - NGO urges Saudi Arabia to free detained Muslim scholars

  • The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has condemned the reported arrest of Muslim preachers and scholars in Saudi Arabia, urging Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to order their release.
  • Salman al-Audah, a prominent Muslim preacher and member of the IUMS's board of trustees, and more than 20 others "should not be used as pawns in political disputes", said IUMS in a statement issued late on Monday, referring to the Gulf rift.
  • "In regards to the crisis [with] the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, al-Audah has done nothing but call for unity between these brotherly countries," the statement read, noting that his last tweet urged GCC members to "come together for the sake of their people".

5:15pm - Sources claim Doha Bank cut staff in the UAE

  • Doha Bank has cut about 10 jobs in the United Arab Emirates and plans to put some staff in the region on unpaid leave, sources said, as it copes with the fallout from Qatar's rift with its Arab neighbours.
  • Qatar's fifth-biggest lender will decide by the end of the year whether to make those going on long-term leave redundant if conditions have not improved, said two of the sources familiar with the matter.
  • One source said about 100 staff could be put on leave, while another said it might be as high as 200, although the sources said the final number might be different. The sources declined to be named as the matter is not yet public.
  • In a statement to Reuters news agency, Doha Bank said the information was incorrect, but declined to elaborate. The bank employs 1,571 staff, according to its profile on Linkedin.

11 September 2017

4:27pm - UAE sheikh seeks to sell Qatar tower 

  • A company owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family is seeking to sell Dolphin Tower in Doha, the Qatari headquarters of natural gas supplier Dolphin Energy, sources told Reuters news agency.
  • Al Ain Properties, owned through an investment vehicle by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Ruler's Representative in the Western Region of the emirate, has within the past two months appointed real estate firm DTZ Qatar to market the 25-storey building, two of the sources said.
  • Nobody was immediately available to comment from Al Ain Holding, the parent company of Al Ain Properties, or DTZ Qatar.

4:00pm - Qatar's emir visits US military base

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Doha's Al Udeid air base - the largest US base in the Middle East on Monday.
  • Al Thani discussed US-Qatar defence cooperation and efforts to combat terrorism.
  • The Combined Air Operations Center for the US Central Command, or CENTCOM, coordinates military strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL, also known as ISIS)  in both Iraq and Syria.
  • Al Udeid is home to more than 10,000 US personel.

1:00pm - Qatar foreign minister reconfirms willingness for talks

  • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Sunday that the the GCC crisis will only be solved through dialogue and that despite challenges and allegations, Qatar is willing to talk.
  • He also emphasised that the three-month blockade on Qatar is violating its civil, social and economic rights. "The international community must show responsibility as people are paying the price for these political rifts," Abdulrahman Al Thani said. 
  • Denying all allegations against Qatar, Al Thani said the four blockading countries have tried to hide facts and fabricated allegations of Qatar supporting terrorism. He said the only motivation behind the siege was not fighting terrorism but rather interfere in the country's foreign policy and undermine its sovereignty.

7:00am - Saudi Arabia 'arrests' prominent cleric

  • A prominent Saudi religious leader, Sheikh Salman al-Audah, has been arrested, according to social media postings on Sunday, but not confirmed by Saudi officials.
  • In one of his last Twitter posts, he welcomed a report on Friday suggesting that a three-month-old row between Qatar and four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia may be resolved.
  • "May God harmonise between their hearts for the good of their people," al-Audah said on Twitter after a report of a telephone call between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss ways to resolve the rift which began in June.
  • Al-Audah, an influential cleric who was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change and has 14 million followers on Twitter, appears to have been detained over the weekend, the posting suggested.

10 September 2017

7:30pm - NYT debunks fake ISIL statement

  • The New York Times on Sunday debunked information spread by official Saudi media outlets a day earlier claiming Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) expressed support for Qatar in  the Gulf crisis .
  • Marwan Kabalan, director of policy analysis at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, said by spreading false news Saudi Arabia may be diverting attention from a story in the US media about the Saudi embassy's possible links to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

2:08pm - Russia's Lavrov urges direct talks

  • Arab countries involved in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar should enter into direct talks with Doha to solve the crisis, Russia's foreign minister said on a trip to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
  • Speaking through an interpreter at a news conference, Sergei Lavrov also called for the unity of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the news conference that Qatar needed to show seriousness in finding a solution to the crisis.

10:55am - Russian foreign minister in Saudi Arabia

  • Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, is in Saudi Arabia meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir and other officials.
  • Lavrov is also expected to visit Jordan

9 September 2017

10pm - Qatar's PM discusses Gulf crisis with Japanese FM

  • The prime minister of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, has held a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in the Qatari capital of Doha.
  • The two leaders discussed the developments in the region, including the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis between Qatar and a group of four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
  • Another issue on the agenda was was of boosting ties between Qatar and Japan.

3:20am - Saudi 'suspends plans' to hold Qatar talks

  • Saudi Arabia's state news agency says that plans to hold talks with Qatar have been suspended, shortly after the emergence of reports that the Qatari emir and the Saudi crown prince spoke over phone to discuss a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
  • The call on Friday between by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - reported by state media from both countries - is believed to be the first official contact between Doha and Riyadh since the beginning of the crisis more than three months ago.
  • However, there seems to be a dispute over protocol - apparently, over how Qatar News Agency (QNA) did not menton in its report that it was Doha that had initiated the call.

4pm - Emir of Qatar, Trump in phone discussion over GCC crisis

  • Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has held a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump to discuss the latest developments in the Gulf crisis, in the wake of a visit by Kuwait's emir to the White House.
  • Kuwait has been acting a mediator in the dispute, now in its fourth month. 
  • During Thursday's phone call, the emir of Qatar welcomed Trump's position on the need to resolve this crisis through dialogue to ensure the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to Qatar's state media. He also expressed Doha's position on resolving "differences through constructive dialogue that does not affect the sovereignty of states", Qatar News Agency reported.
  • A statement published by the White House on Friday said that Trump "underscored the importance of all countries following through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to maintain unity while defeating terrorism, cutting off funding for terrorist groups, and combatting extremist ideology".  

3am - War 'stopped' between Qatar, blockading Arab nations

  • The emir of Kuwait says the threat of war between Qatar and Arab nations blockading it for the past three months has been neutralised.
  • Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, the main mediator in the Gulf dispute, spoke in Washington, DC on Thursday at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump.
  • While both sides in the dispute have ruled out the use of armed force, some ordinary Qataris say they worry about the possibility of military action, given the ferocity of the criticism their country has received from media in the four Arab states.
  • "What is important is that we have stopped any military action," Sheikh Sabah said.

7 September 2017

11:10pm - Donald Trump calls for 'united GCC', offers to mediate

  • US President Donald Trump has offered to mediate in the three-month diplomatic dispute between Qatar and its neighbours, saying "we will be most successful [against terrorism] with a united" Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Speaking at a joint news conference with Kuwait's emir in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Trump said he supported Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah's mediation efforts but if that did not manage to resolve the Gulf crisis, he would be "willing to be a mediator".
  • "I think it's something that's going to get solved fairly easily," he said.
  • "We call on our GCC and Egyptian allies to focus on our commitments at that Saudi Arabia summit to continue our joint efforts to drive out and defeat terrorists.
  • "Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are all essential US partners in this effort. We have great relationships with all of them right now, maybe better than we've ever had.
  • "We will be most successful with a united GCC."

4:20pm - Call for ban on UK MP over anti-Qatar conference

  • Concerns are being raised with the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee over the participation of a British member of parliament at an anti-Qatar conference.
  • Daniel Kawczynski is expected to take part in the event in London next week, which is being sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 
  • In a letter to the committee, the non-governmental organisation, 'The London Centre for Public Affairs', has called for Kawczynski to be banned from any nominations to the foreign policy body.

8:00am - Kuwaiti emir to hold talks with President Trump

  • The emir of Kuwait is flying to the US to hold talks with President Donald Trump on the three-month-old diplomatic crisis in the Arabian Gulf. 
  • Kuwait has been acting as the mediator following a political and economic blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt. 

6 September 2017

10:50pm - Qatar waives visa requirement for Moroccans

  • Morocco has been added to a list of countries whose citizens no longer need visas to enter Qatar, official Moroccan media said.
  • Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, who met a Moroccan delegation in Doha on Tuesday, announced that his country "had removed the obligation for Moroccan citizens to obtain a visa", Morocco's official MAP news agency said.
  • In early August, Qatar introduced a visa-free entry programme for 80 nationalities to stimulate air transport and tourism.

2:30pm - Qatar's central bank raises yields in three-month, six-month T-bill sale

  • Qatar's central bank said it sold 1 billion Qatari riyals ($274.7 million) worth of treasury bills in a monthly auction on Wednesday, with yields higher than in its previous offer.
  • The bank sold 650 million Qatari riyals of three-month notes with a yield of 2.25 percent, higher than the 2.14 percent yield at which the bank sold 750 million riyals one month ago in a sign that the blockade against Qatar continues to exert pressure on liquidity in the Qatari money market.
  • It sold 350 million Qatari riyals worth of treasury bills with a six-month maturity and a yield of 2.49 percent, it said on its website.

5 September 2017

9:45pm - Qatar taps Pakistan market amid Gulf blockade

  • A Qatari shipping company is set to launch what it calls the fastest direct service between Doha and the Pakistani port city of Karachi this week, as the Gulf state seeks to establish new trade routes amid a land, air and sea blockade from its Arab neighbours.
  • Maritime conglomerate Milaha is overseeing the venture, with the first vessel due to arrive at the newly inaugurated Hamad Port outside the Qatari capital on September 11 following a transit time of four days - compared to a normally six-to-seven-day journey.
  • "We have been vigorously ramping up our operations between Qatar and key Asian markets in response to growing demand from traders, importers, and exporters on both sides," said Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai, Milaha president and chief executive officer.

9:00pm - 'So be it' if rift with Qatar continues for years: Saudi FM

  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in London that if the rift with Qatar continued for two years then "so be it".
  • He also lashed out at Iran, which has supported Qatar in the ongoing crisis, saying Tehran's talk of a possible rapprochement with the kingdom was "laughable".
  • "If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law. At this time, we do not see... that they're serious about wanting to be a good neighbour," said Jubeir.

3:00pm - France appoints envoy to mediate

  • France's foreign ministry said that it picked its former ambassador to Saudi Arabia as a special envoy to see how Paris could support mediation efforts in the rift between Qatar and its neighbours.
  • France, which has close ties with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates while also being a major arms supplier to Qatar and a key ally of Saudi Arabia, has been relatively discreet on the crisis, largely sticking to calls for calm.
  • "I confirm that Bertrand Besancenot, diplomatic advisor to the government, will soon go to the region to evaluate the situation and the best ways to support the mediation and appease tensions between Qatar and its neighbours," Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing.

12:00pm - Qatar unveils new trading port 

  • Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has opened the new Hamad Port ahead of schedule as part of a wider plan to achieve food security and economic diversification in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.
  • The inaguration of the new port means larger container ships can go directly to Doha rather than docking in the United Arab Emirates, where cargo was transferred to smaller vessels.
  • The UAE is one of the countries that have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar.
  • The port, which is playing a vital role in offsetting the impact of the blockade imposed on Qatar since June 5, will provide Qatar with complete independence in its import and export of goods. 

4 September 2017

7:45pm - Qatar launches direct shipping lines

  • Qatar Ports Management Company, Mwani, has expanded its maritime network by launching several direct shipping lines between Hamad Port and a number of ports in the region.
  • The new routes connect Qatar to Sohar and Salalah ports in Oman, Shuwaikh Port in Kuwait, Karachi port in Pakistan, Izmir port in Turkey and Mundra and Nava Shiva ports in India.

3 September 2017

11:15pm - Despite GCC crisis, Gulf tourists flock to rural Turkey

  • The dispute seems to have had little effect on the eastern Black Sea's now-booming tourism industry. In July, eight cities in Saudi Arabia launched direct flights to Trabzon, the regional hub, to meet demand from Saudi tourists. The UAE and Kuwait also offer direct flights, bypassing the need for tourists to travel through airports in Istanbul.
  • In the first five months of this year, more than 22,000 Arab tourists visited Uzungol, a village with a permanent residential population of fewer than 2,000 people, according to the Trabzon Chamber of Commerce. More than 70 hotels and apartments catering to a range of budgets have sprung up in the village in less than a decade.

2 September 2017

10:00pm – 'Ball in Qatar's court', says Saudi prince

  • Qatar could end a political standoff with a Saudi-led group of nations if it stops interfering in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal says.
  • "The ball is in Qatar's court and they have to perform on that," the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency said in an interview with Bloomberg TV from the Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, Italy on Friday.

1 September 2017

05:40pm - Qatari FM meets Belgian counterpart in Brussels

  • The foreign ministers of Qatar and Belgium have held talks in the Belgian capital of Brussels about the fight against armed groups and the Gulf's diplomatic crisis. 
  • "We are very open to help ... organise a possible dialogue in the region," Didier Reynders, Belgian foreign minister, said.
  • For his part, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, said that despite Kuwait's mediation efforts, blockading nations have not responded "since the crisis started 90 days ago.
  • "There is nothing being provided, neither to Washington nor to Kuwait until now to show any legitimate grievances for all the measures they have taken."

31 August 2017

09:05pm - Kuwaiti emir to meet Trump as Gulf crisis continues

  • The emir of Kuwait will hold talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, next week, according to the Kuwaiti state media, as a three-month-old diplomatic crisis splits the Gulf.
  • "They are claiming that Qatar is interfering in their internal politics, there is no anything against Qatar. Qatar never accepts to interfere to any country's politics, and doesn't accept others to interfere in our politics," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdelrahman Al Thani after a meeting with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

6:50pm - Qatari FM: We don't accept interference in our politics

  • Qatar's foreign minister has called on the Gulf countries that have cut ties with it to stop attempting to influence his country's foreign policy.
  • "They are claiming that Qatar is interfering in their internal politics, there is no anything against Qatar. Qatar never accepts to interfere to any country's politics, and doesn't accept others to interfere in our politics," said Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdelrahman Al Thani after a meeting with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium
  • "While the blockading countries who are accusing Qatar for this, they are interfering in our internal affairs by the incitement they are carrying out to our people."

10:00am - 'No proof' of claims against Qatar

  • Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in an interview with Indian CNN-News18 on Wednesday that Qatar shows zero tolerance towards terrorism, its sympathisers, financers and supporters, stressing that the countries of the siege failed to provide evidence to prove the validity of their accusations against Qatar.
  • Al Thani also said Qatar has been the most developed country in the Gulf region for 20 years. It is home to many foreign universities, the religious landscape is varied and everyone practices his religion freely. "Qatar has evolved in its own way and the siege we have been facing is an incentive for us to move forward towards development policy". 

0:35am - Trump speaks to Saudi King, urges end to Gulf row

  • US President Donald Trump has held a phone conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and called for a diplomatic resolution to the Gulf crisis, the White House said in a statement.
  • "The president urged that all parties to the Qatar dispute find a diplomatic resolution that follows through on their commitments made at the Riyadh summit, to maintain unity while fighting terrorism," the statement said.

30 August 2017

6:05pm - IMF says Qatar's response to sanctions is effective 

  • Qatar acted effectively in protecting its economy against sanctions imposed by other Arab countries, an International Monetary Fund official said on Wednesday, after a week-long visit to Doha. 
  • "The impact on banks' balance sheets was mitigated by liquidity injections by the Qatar central bank and increased public sector deposits," Mohammed El Qorchi said in a statement. 
  • "These reactions reflected effective coordination and collaboration among key government agencies," he said, adding that authorities acted quickly to reroute trade and establish new sources of food supply. 

5:30pm - Russia calls for dialogue to resolve Gulf crisis 

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed Moscow's support for Kuwait's mediation efforts to defuse a three-month long diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
  • "We welcome all initiatives to resolve the Gulf crisis, and we support the Kuwaiti efforts in that direction," Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart. 
  • Ibrahim Fraihat, a Qatar-based analyst, said Russia was backing the Kuwaiti initiative in a bid to fill a regional vacuum created by the United States' lack of clear policy in helping to end the dispute. 

1:00pm - Qatari FM: Awaiting response from blockading countries 

  • Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal attended the news conference with Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari foreign minister:
  • "Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that his government has called for dialogue with the blockading countries on at least 12 different occasions, whereas the blockading countries are yet to respond to a single request, the most important one coming from the emir of Kuwait, who is trying to mediate in the crisis. 
  • "Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have yet to respond either positively or negatively to that request. Sheikh Mohammed said this indicated the lack of cooperation and their insistence to not find a solution to the crisis, and in fact make it drag on as long as possible."

10:25am - Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visits Qatar 

  • Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani will hold a news conference with visiting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at 08:30 GMT.

29 August 2017

11:55pm - Asia Pacific Forum backs Qatar's NHRC 

  • The Asia Pacific Forum (APF), a coalition of 24 national human rights institutions from across the region, has expressed its solidarity with Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), following a complaint submitted in Geneva.
  • Saudi Arabia and its allies, which have cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air embargo against it, filed the complaint earlier in August in a bid to have the committee stripped of its "A" rating in the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) list. GANHRI has rejected the request.
  • The APF congratulated the NHRC for carrying out its work in a professional matter throughout the crisis and stressed that it is always ready to support it.
  • In its statement, the APF also expressed concern regarding the damages caused by the blockade to thousands of people who have mixed families in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

12:15pm - Qatar central bank says banking sector is strong

  • Qatari banks are capable of withstanding the pressure of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, the governor of Qatar's central bank has said after Fitch Ratings lowered the Gulf state's credit rating.
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani, in a statement on Tuesday, said routine stress tests show the banking sector is strong. Qatari banks are highly solvent, profitable and liquid, he said.
  • The central bank has taken extra measures in response to the sanctions, and believes Fitch Ratings will change its decision in the very near future, the statement added. 
  • Fitch cut the country's credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday.

28 August 2017

7:30pm - Qatar may cut capital spending because of sanctions - Fitch 

  • Qatar may be forced to reduce its capital spending on economic projects and infrastructure if damage to its economy from sanctions intensifies, Fitch Ratings has said as it cut the country's credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook.
  • Fitch noted that even before the sanctions, Qatar had shrunk its capital spending plans for 2014-2024 to $130 billion from $180 billion in response to low oil and gas prices.
  • "The government has prepared scenarios for further cuts to capital spending in case oil prices fall again or in case pressures from the embargo intensify," it said.
  • Fitch predicted the Qatari government's net foreign assets would fall to 146 percent of gross domestic product this year from 185 percent last year, as the government moves money into local banks to offset outflows due to the sanctions.

3:30pm - Russia's FM visiting Gulf Arab states over Qatar crisis

  • Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Kuwait at the start of a three-nation tour of Gulf Arab states over the ongoing Qatar diplomatic crisis, where he will also visit Qatar and the UAE.
  • Lavrov's visit to Kuwait City marks the first high-level diplomatic visit by Russia over the crisis.

27 August 2017

9:20pm - UN chief visits Kuwait amid GCC crisis

  • Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, has visited Kuwait as part of a tour of the Middle East.
  • In a meeting with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, the UN boss expressed his gratitude to Kuwait for playing the mediator role in the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
  • He said the UN fully supported its position and also praised the country's leadership for its humanitarian work.

3:15pm - Hamad Port to officially open in September

  • The Ministry of Transport and Communication announced that Hamad Port will be officially inaugurated in the first week of September.
  • In a statement, the ministry said that Hamad Port will be the largest port in the Middle East and will span an area of 28.5 square kilometres.

4:15am - UN Secretary-General expected in Kuwait to discuss Gulf crisis

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected in Kuwait on Sunday to discuss the Gulf crisis with Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah.

26 August 2017

11:00pm - Report shows 2,400 Qataris prevented from Hajj

  • Qatar's National Human Rights Commission issued a report showing that 2,400 Muslims in the country applied for permits to attend Hajj in Mecca but have been prevented from going because Saudi authorities failed to acknowledge Doha's formal request for their attendance.
  • "With the time for performing the fifth pillar of Islam approaching, these measures remained in a clear violation to the right of citizens of the State of Qatar and its Muslim residents who want to perform Al Hajj," Qatar News Agency quoted the NHRC report as saying.

2:30pm - Qatari ambassador back in Iran

  • Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Ambassador Ali Hamad Al-Sulaiti arrived in Tehran on Friday and began working Saturday morning
  • Qatar pulled its ambassador to Iran in early 2016 in a show of solidarity after attacks on two Saudi Arabian diplomatic posts in Iran following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia cleric
  • Qatar and Iran share a massive offshore natural gas field that requires communication between the countries

4:50am - Qatari FM holds talks with British counterpart

  • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani discussed the Gulf crisis with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday, according to a statement from foreign minister's office.  
  • The pair discussed recent developments and embraced new paths to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries. 

2:30am - No Hajj for Qataris this year amid Saudi row

  • For Muslim pilgrims in Qatar who hoped to perform one of the pillars of Islam, the annual Hajj that began this week is out of reach. This is because Saudi Arabia - which overseas and manages Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina - has made it impossible for them to go.
  • The Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, which regulates and organises the annual Hajj for Qatari citizens and residents, announced it hasn't received responses from its Saudi counterpart on travel logistics or security guarantees.

25 August 2017

6:00pm - Grand Mosque imam condemns Muslim discord ahead of Hajj

  • The imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque denounced those who "cause conflict among Muslims" in his last Friday sermon before the annual Hajj pilgrimage as rifts widen among Gulf neighbours.
  • "Anyone who causes conflict and discord among Muslims ignores the blessing of harmony, imitates those who lived in ignorance [before Islam], harms his people and cheats his nation," Sheikh Saleh Mohammed al-Taleb told the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have flocked to Mecca from around the world to perform the Hajj next week. 

4:30pm - UAE foreign minister accuses Qatar of 'adolescent behaviour'

  • Qatar's decision to return its ambassador to Iran "embarrasses Doha and reveals its political tactics", United Arab Emirates foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said. He questioned the reasoning behind Doha's move to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran.
  • Qatar's "soverign decision should not be shy or confused, but its arrogance and adolescent behaviour makes it so", Gargash tweeted. "It's justification is not convincing."

2:55pm - Turkey arrests Qatar news agency hacking suspects

  • Five suspected computer hackers have been arrested in Turkey in connection with an attack on the state Qatar News Agency (QNA) in April.
  • QNA website was hacked and inflammatory comments attributed to Qatar's Emir were broadcast on news channels in the UAE and Saudi Arabia - despite the Qatari government repeatedly rejecting the fake reports. The hacking preceded the blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
  • "Our friends in Turkey answered us a short time ago. Five people were arrested and  they are being investigated. The prosecutors in Qatar are working with the Turkish authorities to follow this case," said Ali al-Marri, Qatar's general prosecutor.

3:30am - Kushner spoke of US-Qatar 'close relationship' during Doha visit 

  • Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, discussed the "close relationship" between Qatar and the US during a visit to Doha on Monday, according to the state department.
  • State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that "the parties discussed the importance of the peace effort to countering terrorists and extremists". 
  • Kushner is leading a delegation to the Middle East on behalf of Trump. He also with other Gulf leaders. 

24 August 2017

11pm - Qatar links tit-for-tat Chad embassy closure to Gulf crisis

  • Qatar ordered the embassy of Chad be closed and gave its diplomats 72 hours to leave, the Qatari foreign ministry said on Thursday, accusing the African country of joining a "campaign of blackmail" with its decision to shutter the Qatari embassy.
  • Chad said on Wednesday it was giving Qatari diplomats 10 days to leave the country.
  • The director of the Qatari foreign ministry's media department said the timing of the Chadian decision shows that it "comes within the campaign of political blackmail against the State of Qatar with the intention of joining the siege countries for very well-known reasons".

6:00pm - Iran welcomes return of diplomatic ties with Qatar

  • Iran has welcomed Qatar's decision to return its ambassador to Tehran as a "positive and logical" step.
  • "Their ambassador had been recalled to Doha for certain consultations, and his return to Tehran is considered a logical and positive move and decision," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram  Qassemi, according to the state-run IRNA news. 

12:00pm - Qatar to return its ambassador to Iran

  • Qatar said on Wednesday its ambassador to Iran, who was withdrawn in January last year, would return to Iran.
  • "Qatar announced that its ambassador to Tehran will return to resume his diplomatic duties," the Qatari foreign ministry's information office said in a statement on its website, adding that Doha wanted to strengthen ties with the Islamic republic.

23 August 2017

10:55pm - European monitor calls for pressure on Saudi Arabia over Hajj

  • The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has urged Jan Figel, the European Union Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the Union, to call on Saudi Arabia to lift the conditions it imposed for the arrival of pilgrims of Qatar to its territory to perform Hajj this year.
  • The Geneva-based Monitor, in a letter sent to Figel, called for an immediate intervention to end the crisis of pilgrims and to exert pressure for not using Hajj as a tool for political gain, and not to impose conditions on pilgrims.

8:40pm - UN chief, Qatar FM hold phone conversation

  • Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has held a telephone conversation with Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations.
  • The Qatari diplomat briefed Guterres on the latest developments in the Gulf crisis and the measures taken by the Saudi-led group of countries against Doha.
  • The two leaders also discussed boosting cooperation in other areas.

22 August 2017

11:45pm - Qatar fearful over treatment of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi

  • Qatar said it is worried Hajj pilgrims from the emirate face being badly treated if they travel to Saudi Arabia as the row over arrangements for the religious event intensified.
  • The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said that considering the ongoing Gulf diplomatic impasse, it was concerned about the safety of pilgrims travelling from Doha in the next few days.
  • "Given the current situation, it (the ministry) remains concerned and fearful for Qatari pilgrims and a repeat of the harassment of Qatari citizens in June," read the statement.
  • Early in June, local media reports claimed Qataris were stopped from entering the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
  • The Hajj to Mecca, the most revered site in Islam, is a pilgrimage that Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to do so.

2:25 - Dubai TV airs 'fake news' about rallies, curfew in Doha

  • Dubai TV has aired a false report claiming anti-government demonstrations took place in Doha, Qatar, and alleged that troops - including soldiers from Turkey - sprayed tear gas at protesters.
  • Qatar's government press office on Tuesday dismissed the report as "fake news" in a statement sent to Al Jazeera, a day after the broadcast which has now been circulated online.

5:30am - Senegal restores its ambassador to Qatar

  • Senegal announced on Tuesday that it has reappointed its ambassador to Qatar who had been recalled on June 6 amid the Gulf crisis.
  • "Senegal has decided to send its ambassador to Doha back to Qatar," tweeted Ahmed bin Saeed Al Rumaihi, Director of the Information Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal.
  • Qatar's official news agency QNA reported that the decision was made after a phone call between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Senegal's President Macky Sall.
  • The two leaders also discussed boosting relations in various fields and the recent developments in the Middle East, particularly, the Gulf crisis.

21 August 2017

11:15pm - Qatar slams Saudi Arabia's hajj flight restrictions

  • A strongly worded statement from Doha's foreign ministry said it was surprised that Riyadh had decided to restrict the transport of Hajj pilgrims from Qatar only through Saudi Arabian Airlines. The hajj to Mecca, the most revered site in Islam, is a pilgrimage that Muslims must perform at least once.
  • "Limiting the transfer of Qatari pilgrims to Saudi Arabian Airlines only is unprecedented, illogical, surprising and contravenes the teachings of Islam," said the statement from the ministry's information office director, Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Rumaihi.
  • Earlier, Doha had denied a claim from Saudi Arabian Airlines accusing Qatari authorities of refusing to allow one of its flights to land at Hamad International Airport on Sunday.

12:50am - Civil Aviation Authority denies Qatar refused to allow Saudi Airlines to fly Qatari pilgrims

  • An official source from Qatar's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has denied claims made by media outlets in the blockading nations that Qatar refused to allow Saudi Airlines to fly Qatari Hajj pilgrims.
  • The CAA received a request from Saudi Airlines in which they asked to carry Qatari pilgrims, and advised them to coordinate this request with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs through the Qatari Hajj Delegation, reported the Qatar News Agency.
  • The CAA stated their response was in accordance with procedures followed in the past.

20 August 2017

7:35pm - Saudi carrier claims Qatar has not yet approved Hajj flights

  • Saudi Arabia says its aircraft have not been given permission to land in Doha to pick up Qatari pilgrims for the annual Hajj, news agencies reported. A Qatari government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
  • Along with reopening its land border with Qatar, Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that King Salman had ordered the dispatch of a Saudi Arabia Airlines plane to fly Qatari pilgrims to Jeddah at his own expense so that they could go on to Mecca, Islam's holiest city.
  • But the first flight has not been able to take off from Saudi Arabia because it had not yet received landing permission in Doha, said Saleh al-Jasser, the general director of the airline, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

6:45pm - Doha claims victory after Saudi-led group files complaint against Qatar human rights body

  • The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) has rejected a request by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt to get Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) downgraded, according to NHRC chairman Ali bin Samikh al-Marri.
  • Marri thanked GANHRI for supporting the work of the NHRC and urged civil society groups in the four countries to work with the committee to address the worsening humanitarian conditions imposed on GCC citizens due to the measures against Qatar.
  • Earlier in August, the four countries, which have cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air embargo against it, had submitted a complaint against NHRC to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in a bid to have the committee removed from the "A" rating of the GANHRI list.
  • On Monday, several international human rights groups sent a letter to the UNHCR, asking them to reject the four countries' move.
  • "As human rights organisations, we call upon your esteemed office to reject this complaint, we also hope that you will call on the four countries, through their permanent representatives at the UN headquarters in Geneva, to stop harassment  on human rights defenders, and work to upgrade their national bodies, so as to work efficiently to defend the human and his rights, in accordance with international standards in this regard, and to unite to promote human rights in the region especially and in the world in general," said the letter.

3:50pm - Saudi Twitter users urged to expose Qatar sympathisers

  • Saudis have been told to expose the names and identities of anyone showing sympathy with Qatar on Twitter, with a senior Saudi official vowing to "follow" every name reported via the social media site.
  • Anwar Gargash, the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs, was one of the first to express support for the blacklist, tweeting: "Saud al-Qahtani is an important voice ... and his tweet on the 'blacklist' is extremely important."
  • The UAE has banned all expression of sympathy with Qatar, making it a criminal offence punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

12:30pm - Qatari FM decries 'escalation' by Saudi-led blockade nations

  • "The four siege countries have not responded up to now," said Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
  • "Rather, we have seen continuing escalation and attempt to market the accusation that Qatar supports terrorism without providing any evidence, until they reached a stage of despair to buy a few seconds in the Western channels to publish their advertisements. Unfortunately, this is their constant behaviour since the beginning of the crisis."

11:30am - Qatar balks at calls to end military ties to Turkey

  • Qatar's ambassador to Ankara said calls by a Saudi-led block for Doha to cut defence ties with Turkey is an "obvious intervention of internal affairs".
  • "This is against all international law and norms," said Salem bin Mubarak Al Shafi in a written statement on Saturday about the demand to close a Turkish base in the country.
  • "The closure of this base and demanding that our defence relations with Turkey be interrupted would be an obvious intervention of our internal affairs, infringement of our sovereignty rights, and the assumption of tutelage over us."

11:00am - Condemnation after Al Arabiya depicts Saudi jet shooting down Qatar Airways plane 

  • Reaction was swift to the broadcasting by Al Arabiya TV of a graphic simulation showing a Saudi fighter jet shooting a missile at a Qatar Airways passenger aircraft.
  • Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science at MIT, tweeted: "This is some outrageous stuff from Al Arabiya, threatening to shoot down a Qatar Airways passenger jet if in Saudi."
  • Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said on Twitter, "It's shocking that a news channel would think it's acceptable to create and illustrate a passenger airline aircraft being blown out of the sky."

10:45am - Bahrain's opposition denies colluding with Qatar on coup

  • Bahrain's main opposition has denied media reports that accused Qatar of attempting to overthrow the island kingdom’s government.
  • Al Wefaq, a banned Shia opposition group, said claims by Bahraini media that its leader Sheikh Ali Salman and Qatar's former prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, conspired to incite protests during a phone call in 2011 were "fabricated".
  • The telephone call was made as part of a mediation effort led by Qatar and backed by the United States, Al Wefaq said in a statement on Saturday.

2:45am - Saudi TV channel's Qatar Airways report 'terrorises' travellers

  • Qatar has filed a complaint before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), against what it calls attempts to "terrorise" travellers who are flying on its national flag carrier.
  • In a letter sent to the Montreal-based United Nations agency on Saturday, Doha said the Saudi-led group that has imposed a blockade on Qatar has violated international law by broadcasting a news report showing the shooting down of a Qatar Airways passenger aircraft. 

19 August 2017

7:30pm - UAE envoy berates Saudi leadership in leaked emails

  • The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, berated Saudi Arabia's leadership, a series of emails leaked by a computer hacking group "Global Leaks" reveal.
  • In a 2008 email chain with his wife Abeer Shoukry, published by the Middle East Eye news website on Friday, Otaiba described the kingdom's leaders as "f****ing coo coo".
  • The correspondence also makes a case for Mohammed bin Salman over his cousin and former crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef.

18 August 2017

6:15pm - Qatar concerned about safety of citizens in Saudi Arabia during Hajj

  • Qatar expressed concern about the safety of its citizens in Saudi Arabia following the reopening of the countries' border enabling Qataris to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
  • "The level of tension between the two nations, the language and the tone of the Saudi media spreading hatred against Qatari people represents a great concern for us," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said during a visit to Norway.
  • "Those people crossing the border right now are under the responsibility of the Saudi authorities for their security and safety," Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that "more than 100" citizens had crossed since Thursday.

3:00pm - Preparations for 2022 World Cup in Qatar 'unaffected by blockade'

  • The head of the committee responsible for the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar says the Gulf crisis has had little impact on preparations.
  • In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Hassan Al Thawadi said various construction projects, including eight stadiums and a $35bn metro and rail system, are "on schedule".
  • "No doubt that the blockade has caused an inconvenience," Thawadi said, noting that Qatar could not work with some GCC companies that were contracted as suppliers or service providers. "We have very quickly moved onto Plan B, found alternative sources of supply - alternative routes of supply as well."

12:30pm - Qatar enlists US firm to combat terror financing

  • Qatar's anti-money laundering agency has enlisted an advisory firm run by former US treasury department officials to boost the country's fight against "terrorism financing".
  • Qatar's National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Committee (NALMC) is partnering with Washington based Financial Integrity Network (FIN), headed by Daniel Glaser, who served as the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes from 2011-2017. 
  • Sheikh Fahad Faisal Al Thani, the chairman of NAMLC, said on Thursday that Qatar was "strongly committed to combating illicit financing activities" and that the partnership with FIN will "ensure that Qatar builds on its successes to date in preventing and disrupting these illegal activities".

10:10am - Saudi Arabia urged to clarify safety measures for Qatari pilgrims

  • Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Saudi Arabia is yet to clarify details of how it will receive Qatari pilgrims and steps it will take to assure their safety.
  • Speaking in Stockholm on Thursday, Sheikh Mohammed welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen the two countries' border to Qatari pilgrims as a positive step towards ending the siege on Doha.
  • The Qatari government will communicate with Saudi Arabia on the safety of the Qatari Hajj mission, he said, and urged Saudi Arabia not to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage. 
  • "We hope that these steps will continue, as well as not involving human matters in the political dispute re-uniting the mixed families," he added. 

17 August 2017

11:05pm - Qatari pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

  • Qatari pilgrims began arriving in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Saudi media reported, after Riyadh said it was opening up its border and airports for those attending the annual hajj pilgrimage despite a diplomatic rift that cut travel ties between the two neighbours.
  • Doha welcomed the Saudi decision to open the frontier and provide flights for Qatari pilgrims, but regarded the move as politically motivated, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.

2:15pm - Qatar 'welcomes' Saudi move to allow Qatari pilgrims to perform Hajj

  • Qatar welcomed Saudi Arabia's decision to reopen the two countries' border to Qatari pilgrims, while lashing out at Riyadh's "politicisation" of religious freedoms. 
  • "Regardless of the manner in which Qataris were banned from the pilgrimage, which was politicised, and the manner in which they were again permitted to make the pilgrimage, which was also politicised ... the government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at press conference on Thursday with his Swedish counterpart in Stockholm. 

1:00am - Saudi Arabia to allow Qatari pilgrims to perform Hajj

  • Saudi Arabia news sites have reported that King Salman has ordered measures to allow Qatari pilgrims in to perform Hajj in Mecca
  • The King has reportedly ordered that Saudi aircraft be sent to Doha to accommodate Qatari pilgrims at his own expense, in addition to opening up the land border

16 August 2017

2:30pm - Qatar sovereign fund not planning asset sales, CEO says

  • The Qatar Investment Authority does not plan to liquidate its assets around the world and will soon announce major new international investments, the sovereign wealth fund's chief executive told local media on Wednesday. 
  • "We have just completed a tour of several countries around the world and you will hear about significant investments soon," Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud Al-Thani was quoted as saying by the Lusail newspaper. He did not give details of the new investments.

9:30am - Qatar's economy remains strong, say experts

  • Qatar's economy is strong enough to weather the GCC crisis, according to experts interviewed by the AFP news agency.
  • "In the medium- to long-term, perhaps people who live here will feel" the effects, but for the time being, "we haven't felt any big difference", said Mohamed Ammar, who heads the Qatari Businessmen Association.
  • Analysts have faith in the capacity of Qatar, holder of the world's third-largest natural gas reserves after giants Russia and Iran, to withstand a long crisis.
  • "Qatar is the most resilient country in the Middle East by far," said Andreas Krieg, a strategic risk analyst and assistant professor at King's College London university.

15 August 2017

8:15pm - Qatar FM: Lot of time needed to rebuild trust in Gulf

  • Qatar's foreign minister said on Tuesday it will take a "lot of time" to rebuild any trust between the Gulf Cooperation Council members because of the region's continuing diplomatic crisis.
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said: "Qatar has always been one of the founders of the GCC organisation and we still consider that this has a great importance for all of us in the region."
  • "This organisation has been built on a strategical security and been built on trust. Unfortunately, what happened lately with this crisis, this factor is missing now and needs a lot of time to rebuild the trust again. We hope that it's restored."

11:30am - UAE FM Gargash calls Qatar 'arrogant'

  • The United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash has called Qatar "arrogant" after a Qatari official accused the blockading nations of carrying out a "smear campaign" against Doha.
  • "It is the country's arrogant position to accuse the United Arab Emirates' of leading the campaign against it and of opening fronts, including with Saudi Arabia, and at the same time to think that undermining the security of Bahrain and Egypt is a natural right. This is the logic of illogical," Gargash said on Twitter.
  • Gargash said Doha's reliance on outside intervention to resolve the conflict is "incorrect behavior" and only leads to prolonging the situation.

9am - Qatari envoy says three-month blockade has 'failed'

  • Qatar's special envoy on counter-terrorism Mutlaq Al Qahtani says the blockade by neighbouring countries has not succeeded after three months.
  • "If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - the countries driving the confrontation, despite the appearance of a unified bloc - hoped to bring Qatar to its knees, they have failed. If they hoped to damage Qatar's reputation and improve their own, they have failed. If they hoped to enhance their relationship with the US at Qatar's expense, again, they have failed," he wrote.
  • "Instead, the anti-Qatar smear campaign has put a spotlight on the shameful history and unsavory practices of the Saudis and Emiratis themselves. Saudi Arabia justifies the blockade by alleging that Qatari authorities support extremists and terrorist organisations. But the accusation only reminds observers that the Saudis have consistently failed to prevent the radicalisation of their citizens."

14 August 2017

11:45pm - Rights groups call on UN to reject Saudi-led complaint against Qatar human rights body

  • Several international human rights groups sent a letter to the UNHCR on Monday, asking them to reject a move by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt to have the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar removed from the 'A' rating of the International Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions list.
  • "As human rights organisations, we call upon your esteemed office to reject this complaint, we also hope that you will call on the four countries, through their permanent representatives at the UN headquarters in Geneva, to stop harassment  on human rights defenders, and work to upgrade their national bodies, so as to work efficiently to defend the human and his rights, in accordance with international standards in this regard, and to unite to promote human rights in the region especially and in the world in general," said the letter.
  • The groups that signed the letter included: Free Voice Organization for the Defense of Human Rights - Paris; Swiss Organization for the Protection of Human Rights - Geneva; International Council for Justice, Equality and Peace - COJEP international - France; Association of Torture Victims in Tunisia - Geneva; Solidarity for Human Rights - Geneva; International Observatory for Societies and Sustainable Development - Tunis; International Coalition for Human Rights and Development - Geneva; and Libya Watch - London.

5:15pm - Report: Saudi crown prince wants out of Yemen war

  • The UK-based Middle East Eye has reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told two former US officials that he "wants out" of the war in Yemen.
  • In a leaked email obtained by the news website, the crown prince also known as MBS, reportedly spoke to Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, and Stephen Hadley, the national security advisor during the administration of George W Bush, about his intentions.
  • The details of the discussion were contained in an email between Indyk and Yousef Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates' ambasador to Washington. In the email exchange, Indyk was also quoted as writing thatMBS "is OK with the US engaging Iran as long as it is co-ordinated in advance and the objectives are clear."

13 August 2017

4:45pm - Qatar opens new sea route with Karachi

  • Qatar's state news agency is reporting that the country has launched a new route between Hamad Port and Pakistan's Port of Karachi on Sunday.  
  • Qatar said the new route will bloost trade between the two countries, and offer "fast and secure" corridor for importers and exporters, with transit time of six days from Qatar to Karachi and eight days from Pakistan.

3:00pm - Four states behind blockade gave US assurances its firms would remain unaffected.

      • Reuters is reporting that the four Arab states responsible for a blockade on goods entering Qatar gave the US assurances that its firms would not be affected if they continued to do business with Doha.
      • Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt sent US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a letter in July reassuring him that US companies would not be affected by the boycott, the report says, citing "sources with knowledge of the letter".

1:00pm - Qatar human rights group demands unhindered access to Hajj pilgrimage

      • In an interview with the Qatari daily, al-Raya, Dr. Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, the head of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), demanded that Saudi Arabia lift all land and air restrictions on Qatar-based pilgrims traveling to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
      • The NHRC has also expressed concerns about the fate of workers for Qatari-owned businesses in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE, after their employers were expelled.
      • The group says hundreds of people are trapped in the countries and are living in difficult conditions.

12 August 2017

10:25pm - Saudi Arabia, UAE 'tried to host' Taliban first 

  • Abdulla Anas, a former friend of the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, told the Middle East Eye on Friday that he was "bewildered" by Saudi Arabia's claim that Qatar supported terrorism by allowing the  Taliban  to open an office in Doha. 
  • Anas said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tried to host the Taliban before the armed group set up an office in Qatar..  
  • Anas, an Algerian who now lives in London, told Middle East Eye that he made a series of visits to Saudi Arabia between 2006 and 2008 in an effort to bring warring factions in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.

05:30pm - Qatar to Saudi Arabia: Protect rights of Qatari pilgrims

      • Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee has called on Saudi Arabia to make sure its citizens can perform the Hajj without any problems. 
      • Al Marri said Saudi Arabia should "remove all obstacles and iron out all difficulties", calling for the establishment of direct flights from Doha to Jeddah, as well as opening of an inland entry port for low-income pilgrims, who cannot afford to travel to Saudi Arabia by air.  
      •  "If those obstacles are not removed, then the Saudi Authorities are proving that are not willing to enable pilgrims from Qatar to perform the Hajj rituals this year."

2:30pm - Swiss human rights group raises concern of Hajj restrictions on Qataris 

  • The Swiss Organization for the Protection of Human Rights says Saudi authorities plan to impose constraints on Qatari citizens attempting to travel to the kingdom to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. 
  • "Saudi Arabia, by taking such arbitrary measures, which are not based on any moral or legal basis, prevents innocent people who have no relation with all these political differences from performing their religion rituals, which is in violation of international law," the group said in a statement on Saturday.

1pm - Former liaison between Gulf states and the Taliban: Saudi Arabia keen on Taliban office   

  • A former Afghan mujahideen fighter says Saudi Arabia was interested in hosting a Taliban office in the country, the Middle East Eye reports.
  • Abdullah Anas says he made multiple visits to Saudi Arabia between 2006 and 2008 and met senior officials, including the-then head of intelligence, Prince Muqrin, to help establish a Taliban office.
  • He says the meetings were part of an effort to bring all factions in Afghanistan to the table for peace talks.
  • Anas is an Algerian who fought under Afghan mujahideen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.

9 August 2017

6:00pm - Qatar waives visas for 80 nationalities 

  • Qatar has announced a programme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, in order to encourage air transport and tourism.
  • Nationals from dozens of countries in Europe and elsewhere including India, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States only need present a valid passport to enter Qatar.
  • "The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,"  Hassan al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority said.
  • Nationals of 33 countries will be allowed to stay for 180 days and the other 47 for up to 30 days.

11:15pm - Qatar and UPU address disruption in postal service

  • Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar's minister of transport and communications, met on Tuesday with Bishar Hussein, the director general of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
  • The meeting comes in response to the complaint submitted by Qatar to the UPU, concerning the violations of the constitution and conventions of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) by the blockading countries, which is the first of its kind in the world and a dangerous precedent for the UPU charters.
  • The officials discussed the violations of UPU regulations, particularly Article 4 of the Union's conventions, regarding the freedom of transit of postal and postal mail.

11:10pm - NHRC discusses Gulf crisis with head of Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights

  • Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, the chairman of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) met in the capital Doha on Tuesday with Amjad Shammout, the head of the Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights.
  • The meeting dealt with the repercussions of the blockade against Qatar on human rights, the humanitarian situation of the citizens of Qatar and its residents, according to Qatar's state news agency.

2:15pm - Turkish forces in Qatar creates 'a balance in the region'

  • A senior MP of Turkey's governing party said that Turkish presence in Qatar creates "a balance in the region" as military forces of the two countries held military exercises.
  • "Turkey is protecting its own interests through the base in Qatar, rather than taking sides between the parties at odds. And Ankara's interests require stability in the region, therefore Turkey would be against an attack on Saudi Arabia as much as Qatar," Yasin Aktay said on Tuesday.

1:15pm - US envoys arrive in Gulf for talks on GCC crisis 

  • Two US envoys have arrived in Kuwait at the start of a tour of the Gulf aimed at resolving the GCC crisis.  
  • Kuwait News Agency reported late on Monday that retired US Marine General Anthony Zinni and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Timothy Lenderking met with Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah. 
  • The envoys, who will also meet with leaders in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt over the coming days, reiterated US support for Kuwait during the mediation process.

10:30am - UAE partially reopens airspace to Qatar Airways flights

  • Qatar Airways flights now have temporary access to a new route over UAE airspace, according to an announcement made on the Federal Aviation Administration's NOTAM (A Notice to Airmen) database. 
  • The move follows a meeting last week with the UN aviation agency's government council. Contingency routes were planned as part of a preliminary agreement reached earlier this month.
  • Access to the new route began on Monday and ends on November 9. The route only affects inbound flights. 
  • Another NOTAM notice indicated that an additional route, effective August 17, may be opened, but no further details were given. 

7 August 2017

9:30pm - NCHR: Israel's decision on Al Jazeera shows its alignment with blockading states

  • The National Committee for Human Rights in Qatar has said in a statement on Monday that it considers Israel's decision to close down the Al Jazeera office "a dangerous precedent illustrating the Israeli occupier's alignment with actions taken by the countries blockading Qatar, showing their utter disregard for calls by the international community that they respect the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to information".
  • "The National Committee for Human Rights in the State of Qatar affirms that it will work with its partner organisations at the International Conference for Freedom of Expression towards international mobilisation to limit such violations by the Israeli occupier and the countries blockading [Qatar] that have affected freedom of expression, and to implement the recommendations from the abovementioned conference."

7:20pm - StanChart CEO: Gulf rift puts Dubai finance hub at risk

  • The boss of Standard Chartered has warned that Dubai risks damaging its status as a financial centre as a result of the trade boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc, which includes the United Arab Emirates.
  • Standard Chartered is a major lender across the Middle East and CEO Bill Winters said it could become increasingly difficult for Dubai to act as a comprehensive regional hub for international companies' Gulf operations if the tension in the region continued.
  • "There is a lot of benefit we get from having a Dubai hub, we are looking to see what the effect of this will be," he told Reuters. "There is a risk of turning away from the UAE."

7:15pm - Qatar shipper Milaha plans base in Oman

  • Qatar Navigation (Milaha), a top Doha-based shipping and logistics group, said it was moving its regional trans-shipment hub from Dubai to the Omani port of Sohar after a diplomatic crisis in the region disrupted Qatar's trade.
  • Milaha is setting up a warehousing and logistics operation at Sohar, on Oman's northern coast, and is exploring other opportunities to expand in that country, the company said on Monday.
  • The plan suggests Qatar is making long-term preparations to cope with sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

10:30am - Israel backs Saudi-led bloc's Al Jazeera stance

  • Israel has said that almost all countries in the region are determined that Al Jazeera "supports terrorism, supports religious radicalisation", echoing the rhetoric of the Arab nations that have shut down the broadcaster.
  • Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said on Sunday he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel.

12:30am - Qatar, Turkey wrap up 'Iron Shield' war games

  • Qatari and Turkish forces ended a joint military exercise in Doha. 
  • Brigadier Hadi Rashid Al Shahwani, commander of the exercise, said that the "Iron Shield" included training of leaders to assess the situation, planning, control and coordination between the two forces.
  • The Qatar New Agency reported that the exercise was carried out to support counter-terrorism efforts, "extremism and smuggling operations, as well as to maintain security and stability in the region".

12:15am - Workers in Qatar sent on 'unpaid extended leave'

  • As the blockade on Qatar enters its third month, the Migrant Rights organisation said the effects are "increasingly felt" by migrant workers in the hospitality, construction and shipping industries.
  • The Migrant Rights monitor said that in addition to the standard 30 days of paid annual leave, workers have been "asked" to go on "unpaid long leave" for two to three months.
  • In one case, a migrant worker at a five-star hotel told the group that six restaurants in the hotel have been closed because of the drop in the number of visitors.

6 August 2017

12.10pm - Qatar hauling firms feel strain of Gulf rift

  • The closure of Qatar's land border with Saudi Arabia has effectively stopped the import and export businesses of many Qatari truck companies.
  • Business owners, who have complained about less work and higher rents, are hoping the problem is resolved soon.
  • "We have been affected since the first minute," Saeed Fadal Ali Al-Kaabi, director of Al Fadal Transport and Trading, told Al Jazeera.
  • "We are losing money and work is very slow," he said. "We're hardly using any trucks."

11:05am - US steps up efforts to try and resolve dispute

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked two officials, including retired general and former Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, to work on ending the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
  • "There's only so much you can do with telephone persuasion,” Tillerson said last week, after vowing to send the duo to mediate.
  • Gerald Feierstein, former US ambassador to Yemen, backed Tillerson's choice of Zinni as a mediator.
  • "He's a man with tremendous experience and knowledge," he said. "Hopefully, with sustained effort from the US, we will find a solution."

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