Qatar emir lands in Saudi Arabia for GCC summit amid breakthrough in Gulf crisis

Qatar emir lands in Saudi Arabia for GCC summit amid breakthrough in Gulf crisis
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has landed in the Saudi city of Al-Ula to participate in the GCC summit.
2 min read
05 January, 2021
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has landed in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has landed in the Saudi city of al-Ula to participate in the 41st Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) summit, where a resolution to a blockade on Doha is expected to be announced.

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

Emir Tamim and the Saudi crown prince, both wearing masks due to the Covid-19 epidemic, both embraced on a red carpet that welcomed the Qatari leader.

The crown prince then greeted the rest of the visiting delegation as they descended the stairwell of the Qatar Airways flight.

Emir Tamim's attendance at the meeting marks a major breakthrough in ending the three-year GCC crisis, which erupted after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land, and sea blockade on Qatar.

Last week, the GCC said Qatar's ruler received a formal invitation from Saudi King Salman to attend the 5 January pan-Gulf summit.

This comes as Saudi Arabia announced its reopening of 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.

Read also: Bahrain 'violated Qatar's airspace with military jets', Doha says to UN

The move signalled an end of Riyadh's sealing of 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.

After severing ties, the four countries issued a list of 13 demands to Qatar.

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