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East Midlands Chamber News

Qatar – the latest information available

War tensions rising as Bahrain claims right over Qatari land

6 November

Bahrain has claimed the right to seize territory from embattled Qatar amid an escalating diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, the Daily Express reports.

Emir open to Trump-hosted talks on Gulf crisis

30 October

While talking with US broadcaster CBS News, Qatari Emir HH Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said he is ready for US-facilitated talks intended to resolve the worst political crisis in the Gulf.

However, he said he still can't hear a response from the four Arab nations on the invitation from US President Donald Trump, according to Qatarday.com.

He added that he is looking for an end to the dispute, which began on June 5, as political and trade ties were cut off by Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

US may intervene in Qatar crisis

29 October

Gulf states expect Donald Trump to intervene to try to end the bitter feud between Qatar and four other Middle East states that has destabilised the region, the Guardian has reported.

The US is concerned that the four month-long dispute involving its chief allies in the region is entrenching divisions and may end up forcing Qatar – home to the US’s primary Middle East military base – into a closer relationship with Iran.

Washington is expected to give the regional mediator, Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, another chance to try to persuade the warring parties to meet at a long-scheduled Gulf Cooperation Council summit in December, but it may intervene soon afterwards.

Blockade violates intrernational law and human rights claim

12 September

Qatar's foreign minister says the blockade by neighbouring Gulf countries violates international law and human rights and the United Nations needs to take action against the Saudi-led bloc, Aljazeera news has reported.

Speaking at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Monday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Qatar faced numerous challenges because of the "illegal imposition" by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain after accusing Doha of funding "terrorism".

Qatar has vehemently rejected the allegations.

The foreign minister said there are currently about 26,000 cases filed with Qatar's National Human Rights Committee over the blockade. He said he is looking forward to having "measures taken against the blockading countries" by the international community.

"These Gulf countries have taken illegal measures that constitute a grave violation of civil, economic and social human rights, including banning Qatari citizens travelling or transiting through their territories," Sheikh Mohammed said in the session.

"This has torn apart many families and has interrupted education and the right to work in Qatar."

Phonecall causes end to Qatar talks

12 September

Saudi Arabia says it has suspended dialogue with Qatar, shortly after a phone call between the Qatari leader and the Saudi crown prince, according to the BBC.

The two sides had discussed holding talks to resolve the Qatar crisis, which has seen Doha cut off from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

However, Saudi Arabia then accused Qatar of distorting facts about the call, and said it was ending talks.

The four countries say Qatar supports terrorism - something Doha denies.

The row led to all four Arab nations cutting ties with Qatar on 5 June - Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, while all four countries cut air and sea links with the country.

Reseacrh analyst cuts outlook for Qatar

8 August

A leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis has cut the outlook for Qatar's banking system from stable to negative amid the continuing blockade of the country by its neighbors.

Qatar has faced a two-month-long economic embargo imposed by a group of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led group has presented Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down the Al-Jazeera news network, the closure of a Turkish base and a downgrade of its relations with Iran.

Qatar has refused.

Moody's pointed to weaker operating conditions and continued funding pressures for Qatar's banks.

UK joins calls to end sanctions against Qatar

25 July

Britain is calling for Arab states to end the embargo on Qatar as the Turkish President leaves the Gulf after failing to end the crisis.

It follows an announcement two days ago that on Friday 21 July the Emir of Qatar pledged to resolve current Gulf tensions through dialogue and negotiation via Kuwaiti mediation.

The Foreign Secretary welcomed the statement, in which the Emir outlined Qatar’s opposition to terrorism, commitment to resolving differences through dialogue and his country’s support for Kuwaiti mediation.

Egypt doubles down on Qatar blockade as Saudi allies slap further bans on Doha

25 July

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo will “not backtrack” on the blockade, adding: "Our persistence on its own, our stance, and this block, is pressure in itself."

Cairo, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing Islamist militants in the worst crisis among Arab states in years.

It comes as nine entities and nine individuals were added to individual ban lists by the four Arab nations.

The additions include people from Qatar as well as individuals from Yemen and Kuwait who are accused of raising funds to support jihadi groups in Syria, the Daily Express reports.

British Chamber of Commerce Qatar statement on the trade embargo

18 July 2017

Following the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar by many of its regional neighbours, most notably by Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, the Qatar government has reacted promptly to stabilise the economy and ensure commercial and trade relations remain undamaged.

The government has also stated that it intends to continue its current infrastructure and development program on the same timetable as before.

The general reaction from the market is that it remains business-as-usual.

Many British companies have reported that the trade embargo has not yet had any significant impact on their UK-Qatar business. The primary impact has been the need to reroute cargo (both flights and shipping) via Oman and Kuwait.

The Qatar authorities have moved swiftly to agree new measures to strengthen the trade and shipping links with the Omani ports of Sohar and Salalah and similarly to reinforce air links with Kuwait, Muscat and other hubs in the wider region. That has, inevitably, meant small delays to cargo shipments and increased transportation costs but, overall, the impact has not been as dramatic as initially feared and shipments are now arriving on a regular basis.

The British Chamber of Commerce Qatar (BCCQ) remains confident that the long-term economic prospects for Qatar look exceedingly strong. While it is hard to say how quickly and amicably the dispute will be resolved, attractive business opportunities in all sectors remain for UK businesses to expand trade with Qatar.

In the eyes of the business community in Qatar the breakdown in relations has not affected commercial and economic affairs unduly.

For UK companies with existing business in Qatar or immediate prospects, the British Chamber would encourage you to renew contact with your key customers and partners and make early plans to visit the market. For those UK businesses based in UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia or who trade with Qatar through partners and agents based there, contact the British Chamber to discuss how best to approach the market in the light of the current trade embargo.

The British Chamber of Commerce Qatar would like to encourage those who have enquiries about the current commercial market in Qatar to contact it. It is happy to provide further information and advice to UK businesses keen to trade in Qatar.

Saudi-led bloc vows new measures

The four Arab states leading a boycott against Qatar have condemned its rejection of their demands and warned of unspecified new measures against it.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates said Doha was intent on continuing a "policy aimed at destabilising security in the region".

New measures would be enacted in an "appropriate and timely manner", the BBC reports.

Qatar given further 48 hours to meet Gulf demands

Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states have extended the deadline for Qatar to accept a list of demands or face further sanctions by 48 hours.

The initial deadline for Qatar to agree to the group's 13 demands, including the shutting down of the Al Jazeera news network, expired on Sunday.

The Gulf state, which denies funding extremism, is expected to submit a formal response later.

It has called the demands an "affront to international law", the BBC has reported.

Qatar facing indefinite isolation, UAE says

With less than a week remaining for Qatar to comply with a tough set of 13 demands from its Gulf Arab neighbours, it is looking increasingly likely that this month's economic and political sanctions imposed on Qatar will become permanent.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have demanded, inter alia, that Qatar stop funding terrorism - which it denies - downgrade ties with Iran and close down its Al Jazeera broadcaster, or face permanent isolation.

Qatar is not backing down, the BBC reports.

Initial situation:

Companies trading with Qatar are becoming increasingly concerned about the severing of diplomatic ties with that country on 4 June by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have implemented what is effectively a blockade against Qatar, closing airspace and territorial waters and preventing onward shipment of goods traditionally routed through them.

This is of greatest concern to companies which might have goods destined for Qatar now ‘stuck in transit’ in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, particularly those with Letters of Credit stipulating delivery by specific dates to secure payment.

UK exporters are being encouraged to discuss with their shipping agents alternative routes into Qatar but a threat of wider action by Yemen, Libya and the Maldives could further complicate arrangements.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Qatar has issued a statement which said: “On 4 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. This has led to closures affecting road, air and sea routes between these countries and Qatar, as well as travel and residence restrictions affecting Qatari nationals. Restrictions on entry to the UAE have also been placed on certain holders of Qatari Residence Permits. These restrictions don’t apply to British nationals.

As of 6 June 2017, the land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is closed. All flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain are suspended until further notice. These measures are likely to lead to some disruption for travellers in the region. You should check with your airline before you travel. Direct flights to and from the UK aren’t affected.

Travellers should also check with the FCO Travel Advice for Qatar which is being updated regularly.

Trade with Qatar is similarly affected by the closure of ports and road borders to Qatar-bound shipments. Companies with goods in transit to Qatar should check with their shipping and handling agents to determine how best to ensure the shipments can reach Qatar. Local shipping agents in Qatar can advise on what new routes are proving most reliable and effective.

For companies that have future business in Qatar, the Qatar government has emphasised that its ports and the airport remain open and they are operating business as usual.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Qatar judges the embargo to be only temporary in nature but it is not possible to say how long it will continue.”

Please keep visiting this website for further information.

The Daily Express is maintaining an up-to-minute account of what's happening in the region.