UAE president visits Qatar in sign of thaw


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) president arrived in Qatar on Monday in the first such visit since Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies ended a boycott of Doha nearly two years ago.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s de facto ruler for years before becoming president in May, was met on arrival in Doha by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose country is hosting soccer’s World Cup, the emir’s office said.

“The visit comes based on the brotherly ties that link the two countries and their people,” UAE state agency WAM reported.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt early last year ended a 3-1/2 year embargo of Qatar, but ties between Abu Dhabi and Doha have not warmed at the same pace as Riyadh and Cairo, who re-established diplomatic ties with Doha.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and Egypt’s president attended the opening World Cup ceremony in Doha on Nov. 20 while the UAE sent Dubai’s ruler, who is also the Gulf state’s vice-president.

The political dispute that had seen Riyadh and its allies sever all ties with Qatar, over its support for Islamist groups they deem a threat to Gulf dynastic rule and its ties with rivals Iran and Turkey, had shattered the six-nation Gulf bloc. REUTERS