In a move to de-escalate the mounting diplomatic tension, Qatar allowed citizens from the warring Gulf countries to stay on. Qatar’s decision will come as a relief to the more than 11,000 people from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain living in the country.
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”.
Qatar welcomed the citizens of Gulf countries to stay on despite three Gulf states ordered all Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days.
The crisis began a week ago when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups. Even though Qatar denied the allegations, Saudi Arabia and several of its allies severed ties with it in an unprecedented Gulf crisis, with no major signs of the bitter rift ending.
Hope of a resolution came when Kuwait’s foreign minister reiterated that his country would continue efforts to mediate a solution to the crisis.
Saudi Arabia said it was ordering “suitable measures” to help families with mixed citizenships but provided didn’t give details.
Iran too 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.
So far, Qatar has strongly rejected the allegations and has said it is open to talks on ending the dispute.
“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.
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.
(With inputs from agencies)