UAE President Visits Qatar in Sign of Regional Thaw

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ), the UAE's de facto ruler for years before becoming president in May, met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for a brief visit on Monday before returning to Abu Dhabi, where he is due to meet Israel's president.

UAE President Visits Qatar in Sign of Regional Thaw
Image credit: Al Arabiya News

Facts

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ), the UAE's de facto ruler for years before becoming president in May, met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for a brief visit on Monday before returning to Abu Dhabi, where he is due to meet Israel's president.
  • MBZ said via Twitter that "I congratulate my brother Tamim bin Hamad and the people of Qatar on hosting the FIFA World Cup and wish them continued success." He also added that this was a "source of pride" for the Gulf countries and the Arab world.
  • During the relatively short meeting, the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest and the strengthening of bilateral relations.
  • Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to the Emirati president, called the meeting "another step towards strengthening Gulf solidarity and joint action."
  • Relations between Qatar and the UAE, as well as Egypt and other gulf nations, first became strained in June 2017, when Qatar's Arab neighbors cut ties with it, claiming it supported extremists and was too close to Iran — allegations that Doha denied.
  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt ended the nearly four-year-long embargo of Qatar last year. However, ties between Doha and Abu Dhabi didn't warm at the same pace as those with Riyadh and Cairo, which re-established diplomatic relations.

Sources: Reuters, DW, Al Arabiya, Euro News, and France24.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Al Jazeera. This meeting was a good step forward in normalizing relations between Qatar and its Arab neighbors. Though, originally, the spat between Qatar and other Arab states began because of Qatar's independent foreign policy, this is now in the past. Qatar never gave in to the unrealistic demands made during the blockade, and its Arab allies have realized that it's better to be friends than enemies.
  • Narrative B, as provided by NUAE.  It's good to have Qatar back in the Arab fold, especially now that the region's geopolitical fault lines have shifted substantially since 2017. Ultimately, all the UAE and other Arab states wanted was for Qatar to end its support for extremist groups throughout the region, and, for the most part, this is no longer a major issue or concern. The Arab world is far stronger when all its people work together.