UAE-Qatar ties: Trade, transport could resume within a week, says Gargash Filed on January 7, 2021 | Last updated on January 7, 2021 at 11.48 pm

Dr Gargash said Qatar is also expected to drop the many legal cases it had filed against the UAE during the three-and-a-half year long crisis.

While trade and transport could resume with Qatar within a week, building trust and confidence will take longer, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash has said.

“We are extremely, extremely supportive and positive about the declaration,” said Dr Gargash at a virtual media briefing after the four Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia have resumed diplomatic ties with their Gulf neighbour.

Dr Gargash said Qatar is also expected to drop the many legal cases it had filed against the UAE during the three-and-a-half year long crisis.

“With two parties reconciling, it is natural that legal cases will also be dropped,” said the minister.

Also read: UAE-Qatar ties: Legal cases to be suspended

Calling the severing of ties with Qatar in 2017 “a difficult and painful crisis within the GCC,” he said he is glad it has finally come to an end.

“Every crisis has come to an end. I am glad this one is also coming to an end. But every crisis will also depend on the sort of transparency and constructive approach that we move forward with.”

The US-brokered Al Ula document was signed on Tuesday during the 41st GCC Summit held in Saudi Arabia ending the Arab quartet’s boycott of Qatar.

Looking back at the crisis, Dr Gargash said the UAE’s initial approach was that the crisis has to run its course before it can be resolved as it is among countries that are part of social, historical and political milieu.

But few months ago, when the US and Kuwait took initiative to open the airspace with Qatar, UAE was for it. “UAE’s position has always been that we are in this together and we exit together.”

But when Saudi Arabia expressed interest to find a “comprehensive solution,” Dr Gargash said the UAE backed it. “We said ..that we trust you. You lead it and whatever you agree… we will not second guess you.”

But with the “Qatar crisis behind us”, the minister said “we are turning a page” and “starting with a positive note in rebuilding our relations with Qatar.”

Dr Gargash said he expects that the GCC “will go back to its full vitality” on the diplomatic front,” and also move “very fast” on issues including reopening of diplomatic missions.

But while some issues like return of air transportation, trade, sea transport etc. will be the easier things, Dr Gargash said some issues like trust and confidence building will take longer.

“We have a very good new start putting the Qatar crisis behind us but we do have an issue of rebuilding confidence and we will need to do that,” said Dr Gargash. While bringing back “maximum winds into the GCC sails”, the minister said the immediate focus will be on resuming economic activities.

“No crisis in bilateral relationships occurs without leaving its own damage. It will require from us to work together, require transparency. We all expect it will take some time.”

The minister said bilateral working groups between Qatar and the four Arab states will also be established to work out on geo-political issues.

He said since the bilateral issues of countries differ from one another, the working groups will look at and address specific issues.

On the issue of Turkey’s military presence in Qatar, Dr Gargash said: “Our view on the Turkish presence is similar to our view of the Iranian presence in the Arab world.” He added Arab states wish to see Turkey as a country that respects Arab sovereignty.

Ending of Qatar crisis, Dr Gargash said, is part and parcel of the UAE’s new vision and strategy for the post Covid-world.

Drawing examples like the UAE’s exit strategy from the protracted war in Yemen, fighting Covid and leading the world in mass testing and vaccination, signing of Abraham Accords to normalise relations with Israel, UAE’s Mass Probe mission… are all part of UAE’s vision to be “more competitive, more global”.

“Covid was a very difficult challenge towards our capacity as a state, and I think we are doing very well, in terms of tackling it in the early stages, choosing testing and scientific methods as our guideline,” he said.

He said in terms of per capita vaccination, the UAE is just behind Israel. “Our intention is to surpass Israel in terms of the percentage of the population vaccinated.” Dr Gargash said “closing of the Qatar chapter” is part of the UAE’s recognition that there is a “need to revive GCC as a whole in the issue of security and development in the region”.

It is also the UAE’s understanding that a more “connected and more stable region is in our interest,” he added.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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