Qatar moved on Sunday to avoid an escalation of its feud with Gulf neighbours. It told their citizens they are welcome to stay, while boasting of “business as usual” for vital gas exports.
Iran also announced it had sent tonnes of vegetables to Qatar, which has seen food imports threatened after its neighbours cut air, sea and land links with the country.
Nearly a week after Saudi Arabia and several of its allies severed ties with Qatar in an unprecedented Gulf diplomatic crisis, there were no signs of the bitter dispute being resolved.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups, an assertion since backed by US President Donald Trump.
Qatar strongly rejects the allegations and has said it is open to talks on ending the dispute, which also saw the three Gulf states order all Qatari citizens out of their countries within 14 days.
The crisis has raised deep concerns of instability in the region and today Kuwait’s foreign minister said his country would continue efforts to mediate a solution to the crisis.
Qatar said late on Saturday it would not retaliate with such measures of its own.
A statement carried on Qatari state media said Doha would “not take any measures against residents of Qatar who hold the nationalities of countries that severed diplomatic ties... on the back of hostile and tendentious campaigns against the country”.
The decision will come as a relief to more than 11,000 people from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain living in Qatar.
Concerns have been raised for the impact of these measures on people who live in all the countries affected.
“For potentially thousands of people across the Gulf, the effect of the steps imposed in the wake of this political dispute is suffering, heartbreak and fear,” Amnesty International has said.
Saudi Arabia said today it was ordering “suitable measures” to help families with mixed citizenships but provided few details.
Despite the unprecedented sanctions, Qatar says that its crucial exports of liquified gas have not been interrupted.
“Qatar Petroleum... is conducting business as usual throughout all its upstream, midstream and downstream businesses and operations, and in all activities across all of QP’s world-class facilities,” a statement read.
Gas has helped transform the tiny emirate into one of the richest countries in the world, fuelling its rise into a major regional player and helping fund huge infrastructure projects such as the 2022 football World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino today said he was confident the diplomatic crisis posed no threat to the 2022 edition of the World Cup, which raked in USD 4.8 billion in 2014 in Brazil, according to a FIFA report.
Qatar’s rivals have also accused Doha of being too close to the Sunni Arab Gulf states’ arch-rival—Shiite-dominated Iran—in claims that Doha has also denied.
Iranian officials said on Sunday that tonnes of vegetables had been sent from Iran to Qatar since the measures were taken against it.
Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said five planes carrying around 90 tonnes of vegetables each had been sent to Qatar in recent days.
“We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand,” Noushabadi added, without saying if the deliveries were commercial exports or aid.