Oman bridges gap as Qatar blockade continues

Oman bridges gap as Qatar blockade continues
Neutral Oman is using its national carrier to help stranded Qataris reach home after neighbouring Gulf countries began a blockade on Doha.
2 min read
08 June, 2017
Oman is helping bridge the gap between Doha and the outside world [Getty]
Muscat airport has seen a spike in air traffic this week as a blockade on Qatar has enabled neutral Oman to bridge the divide between Doha and other Gulf states.

Oman Air has laid on special flights to help stranded Qataris reach home as other Gulf countries continue their blockade on Qatar by land, sea and air.

Qatar Airways was forced to cancel flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt after the Riyadh-led embargo on Doha was announced this week.

It has put Oman - which has stayed out of the spat - to use its unique position in the GCC to bridge the gap between Qatar and other Gulf countries.

Oman Air has chartered flights to pick up the Qataris stranded in these countries due to the ban on Qatar Airways by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

This includes three flights on Tuesday to the Saudi Arabia's eastern city Jeddah, Muscat Daily reported.

"Oman Air is upgrading its flights to Doha to bigger aircraft, with more capacity till 14 June ," a spokesperson from the sultanate's national carrier told Muscat Daily.

Oman Air has also provided three extra charter flights for Qatar Airways on the Muscat-Jeddah-Muscat sector.

The long-standing tensions between Qatar and several Gulf states erupted on 5 June, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cut diplomatic dies with Doha.

A series of measures by the Gulf states to punish Qatar over Doha's differing political views on key regional issues and allegations it supports "terror groups" have been announced.

The embargo on the Gulf state had led to panic about the prospect of import-reliant Qatar running out of food, but Iran and Turkey have both offered to provide the resources Doha needs to keep running.

Oman - which has stayed out of the war of words - also looks like a possible port of call for Qatar-bound ships.

There have been unconfirmed reports that Sohar port in Oman's north has seen a spike in shipping since the blockade was announced.