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UAE leader makes surprise visit to Qatar after blockade

December 5, 2022

In his visit to Doha, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan praised the World Cup as a "source of pride" for Gulf countries and the Arab world. The two countries have sought to mend ties following a Saudi-led boycott.

UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed and Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim walk past guard of honor on red carpet in Qatar
UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed met with Qatari ruler Sheikh TamimImage: Qatar Amiri Diwan/AP/picture alliance

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, made a surprise visit to Qatar on Monday.

He made the trip at the invitation of Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

This is Sheikh Mohammed's first visit since the 2017 crisis that led to the UAE severing diplomatic relations with Doha.

"I congratulate my brother Tamim bin Hamad and the people of Qatar on hosting the FIFA World Cup and wish them continued success," Sheikh Mohammed said. The UAE leader, who is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, added that this was a "source of pride" for the Gulf countries and the Arab world in general.

Sheikh Tamim said that the UAE leader's visit "allowed us to discuss ways to strengthen brotherly relations between our two countries, and to exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern, foremost of which are ways to support security and stability in the region."

Why did the UAE cut ties with Qatar?

The UAE implemented a boycott of Qatar in 2017 alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain. The four countries accused Doha of supporting Islamist groups that were close to Iran and financing extremism in the region.

The UAE and Qatar have sought to mend ties following the end of the Saudi-led blockade in January 2021. Abu Dhabi has not yet appointed an envoy to Doha, but restored travel and trade links.

The opening ceremony of the World Cup was attended by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, as well as Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

sdi/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters)