Gulf delegations arrive at Saudi Arabia GCC summit for 'breakthrough reconciliation' meeting

Gulf delegations arrive at Saudi Arabia GCC summit for 'breakthrough reconciliation' meeting
All six GCC delegations have arrived at Saudi Arabia's al-Ula to commence the 41st summit, which will mark the end of the three-year long Gulf crisis.
2 min read
05 January, 2021
Qatar's Emir Tamim and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince MbS [Getty]
Delegations from the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states arrived at Maraya Hall in Saudi Arabia's Al-Ula city on Tuesday afternoon for the bloc's 41st summit, which seeks to present a solution to the three-year Gulf crisis.

Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa was the first to arrive at Al-Ula's Prince Abdul Majeed Bin Abdulaziz Domestic Airport, the northwest Saudi city where the summit is due to take place.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani was greeted at the airport by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he touched down at Al-Ula around 12:30pm local time.

The Saudi crown prince warmly embraced the Qatari leader on the airport's red carpet, in what is being seen as a gesture of reconciliation.

Kuwait's delegation will be led by the ruling Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, while Oman is being represented by Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said.

The UAE's delegation is led by Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Makhtoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Gulf state's deputy.

The special summit this year marks a major shift in relations between Gulf states, following the 2017 blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Read more: Trump official confirms breakthrough in ending Gulf crisis

Emir Tamim's attendance at the meeting marks a major breakthrough in ending the GCC crisis.

Last week, the GCC said Qatar's leader received a formal invitation from Saudi King Salman to attend the 5 January pan-Gulf summit, after weeks of Kuwaiti and US negotiations.

Saudi Arabia will also open its borders and airspace to Qatar, as per a Kuwaiti announcement on Monday evening.

"Based on (Kuwait's ruler Emir) Sheikh Nawaf's proposal, it was agreed to open the airspace and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar, starting from this evening," said Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah on state TV.

The move signalled an end of Riyadh's sealing of its borders to Qatar, in an attempt to politically and logistically isolate Doha.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies - the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - cut ties with Qatar, claiming it was too close to Iran and accused it of funding radical Islamist movements - charges Doha staunchly denies.

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