The United Arab Emirates and Qatar need to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies

A general view of the skyline from the Doha Corniche on March 31, 2022.

Nick Potts – Pa Pictures | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are moving towards restoring diplomatic ties and reopening embassies in each other’s countries, just over two years after a blockade against Qatar was lifted, the bitter political discord between the two and more broadly contained gulf region.

“Work is underway between the Qatari and Emirati teams to reopen the respective embassies as soon as possible, the exact date will be announced after the process is completed,” Qatar’s International Media Office said in a statement to CNBC.

The deal to end Qatar’s three-and-a-half-year political and economic blockade by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain took place in January 2021, with the states pledging to restore ties for the region’s benefit.

The UAE voiced similar goals in a statement from a government official.

“UAE foreign policy is primarily focused on bridge building, economic cooperation and regional de-escalation. Since the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration in January 2021, the UAE has re-established ties with the State of Qatar, with several visits between the two countries facilitating discussions on further developing the relationship and achieving greater mutual prosperity and progress together both countries and the entire region,” the statement said.

“Currently, the activation of diplomatic relations between the two countries is underway, which will include the reopening of embassies.”

Akbar al-Baker (3rd-L), Qatar’s Minister of Tourism and CEO of Qatar Airways, attends a news conference on preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 al, May 26, 2022 in the capital Doha, accompanied by Oman Air CEO Abdulaziz -Raisi, Ghaith al-Ghaith, CEO of flydubai and Captain Ibrahim Koshy, CEO of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA).

Karim Jafar | AFP | Getty Images

Western-aligned Gulf Cooperation Council states were in turmoil in 2017 when Saudi Arabia and its allies severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing the tiny gas-rich nation of being too close to Iran and supporting Islamic terrorism. Doha denied the allegations.

Since the end of the blockade, travel and trade between the states have resumed, with numerous flights to and from Qatar particularly for the 2022 FIFA World Cup; many of them as part of a special shuttle program with Dubai.

The fact that embassies are only now being talked about reopening is “another reminder of the real pace of rebuilding relationships in the Gulf region, within the GCC and of course the wider region,” said Karen Young, senior fellow in the Middle East Institute wrote on Twitter. “It’s been over two years since the Al-Ula deal and work is still underway to reopen embassies.”

The development should come as no surprise and “comes after a long period of high-level dialogue and visits between the two,” said Anna Jacobs, a senior golf analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“The restoration of Qatar-UAE relations means that all former blockade countries (Saudi, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain) have finally fully resumed (or announced their intention to) diplomatic relations with Qatar. in between) remains a great reality,” Jacobs wrote in a series of Twitter posts.

The apparent push toward greater diplomatic normalization comes amid broader regional reconciliation efforts; Longtime enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore ties and reopen their respective embassies in March as part of a Beijing-brokered deal.

— CNBC’s Emma Graham contributed to this report.

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