Posts Tagged ‘Kuwait’

Qatar crisis sends tremors through banking in the Gulf

October 13, 2017

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By Simeon Kerr

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While north Africa and the Levant have been beset by revolt and civil war in Syria and Libya in recent years, the Gulf states have remained a haven of relative stability. However, the political isolation of gas-rich Qatar this year has brought uncertainty to oil-wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council nations already suffering economic damage from the crude price collapse three years ago.

In June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led Bahrain and Egypt in closing airports and seaports to Qatar, claiming it fostered terrorism. Doha denies this but is now isolated from the leading GCC powers.

Travel and trade restrictions leave Qatar facing significant costs, with credit rating agency Moody’s saying the its future depends on the outcome of the crisis. “The severity of the diplomatic dispute between Gulf countries is unprecedented, which magnifies the uncertainty over the ultimate economic, fiscal and social impact on the GCC as a whole,” says Steffen Dyck, a senior credit officer at Moody’s.

Bankers are adjusting to a likely protracted dispute, in addition to lower government spending that has constrained growth in the region since oil prices collapsed.

As banks from the four nations began removing term deposits held in Qatar, Doha drew on its vast wealth to sustain its economy. Moody’s says Qatar injected almost $40bn out of reserves of $340bn to support its economy and financial system during the first two months of the dispute.

Before the crisis, overseas customer deposits made up about a quarter of all deposit funding in the banking sector but that has fallen to an estimated 18-19 per cent, according to Fitch, the rating agency. In June and July, there were large net outflows of non-domestic customer deposits of $8bn and of overseas deposits and borrowings of $15bn, according to official data. More outflows of GCC money are expected as deposits mature, Fitch says.

However, in that period the government and public sector have placed deposits in the banking system of about $19bn, while central bank support amounted to $9bn, Fitch says.

“Fundamentally, the outflow of non-domestic money is being replaced by an inflow of domestic money,” says Redmond Ramsdale, a senior director of financial institutions at Fitch Ratings. Fitch says overseas money is starting to return. Central bank statistics show overall funding for the Qatari banking sector rose in August, up 1 per cent on July.

Asian banks have been rolling over deposits, albeit at higher premiums of 25 to 30 basis points. Qatar National Bank closed a $630m Formosa bond issue in Taiwan in September, signalling confidence among many Asian investors. “We are extending our lines of credit to Qatari clients,” says one banker with an Asian institution. “There is good money to be made.”

Image result for Qatar National Bank, photos

Most international lenders have continued normal relations with Qatar. “We are a global bank operating across a broad political spectrum, we are not party to any dispute,” says a senior banker with a European lender. “So we will abide by any international sanctions, but beyond that it is business as usual.”

As global finance adjusts to the new geopolitical realities, Qatar will have to pay five to 10 basis points more than before the crisis to raise money on capital markets, says one banker with a US institution. “The credit needs to be reset and the sovereign needs to issue first. But Qatar is a small country, sitting on large reserves . . . so we aren’t concerned.”

Some officials in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, have called on international companies to choose between the UAE and Qatar. Bankers say UAE-owned institutions are reluctant to grant mandates to banks with significant Qatari shareholders. And some foreign bankers are worried about losing business in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “We have to be very careful about being seen to do business with Qatar,” says another Asian banker.

The sense that regional businesses are being forced to take sides is a problem for some bankers in the Dubai International Financial Centre. “No one wins from this situation and we all pay a price . . . there is a regional impact,” says the European banker.

The DIFC, a special economic zone that is a base for more than 21,000 workers and 1,750 companies, positions itself as the regional launch pad for international financiers. The centre grew at 6 per cent in the first half of 2017, despite fears that the cost of doing business in Dubai makes the city less competitive in the tougher trading climate with lower oil prices.

Doha airport, once an hour’s hop from Dubai, is now reached via Oman or Kuwait. This means Qatari clients cannot travel to the UAE to meet financiers and manage portfolios.

Executives fear that Dubai will be hit by the collapse in trade with Qatar, once a main export destination for construction materials. Qatar is in the middle of a $200bn infrastructure investment for the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar’s imports slumped by 40 per cent year on year for June 2017 as the boycott bit. Imports from the UAE fell by two-thirds in the same month, illustrating its importance as an import-export hub for Doha.

Much of this re-export business has moved to Oman, which — like Kuwait — has remained neutral. Imports rebounded in August, showing Qatar’s ability to limit the embargo’s impact by switching supply routes. “The Qatar crisis will not bring Dubai down, but it is natural to expect an impact,” says the European banker.

Officials concede that Dubai cannot disentangle itself from the UAE’s role in the embargo. The UAE central bank ordered lenders in the federation to impose enhanced due diligence measures on six Qatari lenders. The DIFC’s regulator has also told entities operating in the centre to follow these measures, according to a document seen by the FT.

Some DIFC entities have expressed concern about a requirement to detail compliance procedures relating to their dealings with well-known lenders including Qatar National Bank, one of the region’s largest. “I thought we’d signed up to an international financial centre,” says one western banker. “Not one exposed to local politics.”

https://www.ft.com/content/8a1dc1dc-87df-11e7-8bb1-5ba57d47eff7

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Mideast nations turn to private sector after oil slump

October 11, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Oil-rich governments across the Middle East, including in Kuwait whose Shuaiba oil refinery is seen here, are increasingly relying on the private sector for investment

DUBAI (AFP) – Oil-rich governments from Tripoli to Tehran are increasingly relying on the private sector in a key change across the Middle East and North Africa, a report said Wednesday.

The value of public-private partnership (PPP) projects across the region, including those still in the pipeline, has more than doubled to $185 billion (155 billion euros) over the past year, the Dubai-based Middle East Economic Digest wrote.

The sharp increase comes as governments have ramped up efforts to get the private sector involved in financing, building and operating public infrastructure projects in a bid to offset shrinking income from oil since crude prices began to fall in mid-2014.

“The rise of PPP over the past few years is one of the most strategically significant shifts in the business landscape of the Middle East since the nationalisation of the oil industry in the early 1970s,” the report said.

Kuwait topped the list with joint projects worth $44.4 billion, followed by Libya with $36 billion, the United Arab Emirates with $27.6 billion and Iran with $14.3 billion worth of projects.

The figures exclude any investments in the key energy sector.

The report said that nearly two-thirds of the projects, worth around $100 billion, are in the planning stages and are expected to be awarded in the next five to six years.

Countries across the region, especially those in the Gulf, have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in oil income due to the slide of crude prices.

US military halts exercises over Qatar crisis

October 6, 2017

By Jon Gambrill

The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. military has halted some exercises with its Gulf Arab allies over the ongoing diplomatic crisis targeting Qatar, trying to use its influence to end the months-long dispute, authorities told The Associated Press on Friday.

While offering few details, the acknowledgement by the U.S. military’s Central Command shows the concern it has over the conflict gripping the Gulf, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and crucial bases for its campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, as well as the war in Afghanistan.

The Qatar crisis began June 5, when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched an economic boycott while closing off the energy-rich nation’s land border and its air and sea routes. The quartet of Arab nations pointed to Qatar’s alleged support of extremists and overly warm ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied supporting extremists and shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran that makes its citizens have the highest per-capita income in the world.

Initially, U.S. military officials said the boycott and dispute had no impact on their operations. Qatar is home to the massive al-Udeid Air Base, the forward headquarters of Central Command which oversees the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign of the Islamic State group and manages a direct line to Russia to manage Syria’s crowded skies.

But as the dispute went on, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis traveled to Doha to offer his support. The Trump administration also agreed to an in-the-works sale of F-15 fighter jets to Qatar for $12 billion.

Responding to queries from the AP, Air Force Col. John Thomas, a Central Command spokesman, acknowledged it would be cutting back on the exercises.

“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” Thomas said in a statement. “We will continue to encourage all partners to work together toward the sort of common solutions that enable security and stability in the region.”

Officials in Qatar did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the boycotting nations have not acknowledged the disruption in military exercises with the U.S.

The Qatar diplomatic crisis has torn apart the typically clubby Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional Arab bloc created in part as a counterbalance to Iran. The U.S. military holds exercises in part to build the confidence of local forces, many of which use American-made equipment.

Among the exercises likely to be affected is Eagle Resolve, an annual exercise held since 1999 that has GCC countries send forces alongside Americans to simulate working as a multinational force in battle. This year’s Eagle Resolve exercise, held in Kuwait in March, involved 1,000 U.S. troops.

U.S. and Gulf allies have regularly held joint, smaller-scale exercises in the region.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz

Real opposition to Qatar is from within the country

October 5, 2017

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Emergence of Shaikh Sultan will keep the authorities in Doha on their toes and with the backing of the Al Merri tribe, a change may be forced upon the ruling faction

By Sami Moubayed, Special to Gulf News
Published: 16:43 October 4, 2017

Gulf News

This week, popular French magazine Le Point published a remarkable story about French businessman Jean-Pierre Maronigiu, who recently spent jail time in Qatar over dud cheques. While in prison, he came across 20 members of the Qatari royal family, all jailed since early June for criticising the present emir, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. Confirming the incident, prominent Kuwaiti journalist Fouad Hashem told Gulf News: “The real opposition in Qatar is not abroad but within Doha, spread across the military apparatus and royal family. This is where real dissent is rooted.”

At a high-profile function in London last month, hundreds of Qatari dissidents gathered at the Qatari Global Security and Stability Conference, repeating similar stories of abuse. The conference agenda included three broad topics: 1) Ending Qatar’s support for terrorists and non-state actors (like members of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood); 2) Human rights abuses in Qatar; 3) Need for democratisation of the Qatari regime; 4) Modifying news coverage and editorial policies of the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV channel. Organiser of the conference and veteran opposition leader Khalid Al Hail estimates the number of anti-Tamim figures in exile at 32,000, expecting the number to rise in the upcoming weeks, as Doha cracks down on internal critics.

“The real opposition in Qatar is not abroad but within Doha, spread across the military apparatus and royal family. This is where real dissent is rooted.”

This week, Qatari authorities revoked the nationality of 42-year old poet Mohammad Bin Futais Al Merri, winner of the 2007 UAE-based Poet of the Million Award. Back then, Doha had celebrated him heartily, especially after he donated the prize money to children with special needs in Qatar and Palestine. He is now being subjected to character slaughter to punish his defence of Saudi Arabia. Al Merri was recently quoted as saying: “Insulting King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] is a line of fire just like insulting the homeland,” adding: “While I have allegiance to my country, I am for Gulf unity.” Passports are usually revoked when citizens of a country commit treason, like spying or transferring sensitive information to enemy territory — two crimes that Al Merri certainly was not guilty of.

Prominent elders of the Al Merri tribe — whose members bestride Saudi Arabia and Qatar — objected to the maltreatment of their iconic son. Doha responded swiftly, revoking the nationality of 54 members, 18 of whom are women, including prominent tribe chief Shaikh Talib Bin Mohammad Bin Shraim. A furious Shaikh Talib snapped: “Qatar has become a safe haven for terrorists.”

These draconian measures prompted a senior member of the Al Thani family, Shaikh Sultan Bin Suhaim, to speak up from Paris, accusing Shaikh Tamim, via Twitter, of becoming the “Stalin of this age”.

Last Friday, Shaikh Sultan travelled to Saudi Arabia to attend a tribal conference in support of the Al Merri tribe. Addressing the crowd, he said: “I came from France to support the tribes, owners of these lands, who are being replaced with mercenaries. We will forcefully restore the nationality of Bin Shraim.” As he concluded Mohammad Bin Futais rose to the podium, delivering a passionate recital that slammed Shaikh Tamim.

Unlike Abdullah Bin Ali, the previously unknown emir who emerged last August to mediate Qatari-Saudi relations before the Haj, Shaikh Sultan is a heavyweight in the Al Thani family. Born in 1984, he is the eighth son of Qatar’s founding foreign minister who now heads a powerful holding company and NGO bearing his name, which caters to educational needs and community service in Doha. Although unlike Abdullah Bin Ali, neither his father nor his brother were emirs of Qatar, he himself is a prominent name in Qatari society, well-liked and respected within the royal family and among Qatari youth. Over the weekend, he said: “Our brothers in the Gulf and the Arab world have ostracised us because of fatal errors that were committed against them alongside ugly practices … these actions were committed in our name, from our land, and with our tools,” adding that such malpractices by Doha need to stop immediately.

The emergence of Shaikh Sultan will certainly keep the authorities in Doha awake all night. Working with Khalid Al Hail and Abdullah Bin Ali — with the full backing of the entire Al Merri tribe — they now have a chance to force a change in its behaviour. If anything, the Qatari opposition movement is snowballing and there are no indicators from Doha that Shaikh Tamim is backing down — certainly not with the arrest of family members and the revoking of nationality of prominent Qatari intellectuals, whose only crime was — not criticising Tamim, but praising King Salman of Saudi Arabia. A popular British idiom goes something like tis: “Giving one enough rope to hang himself.” And strangely, this is exactly what Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad is doing to himself.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian and former Carnegie scholar. He is also author of Under the Black Flag: At the frontier of the New Jihad.

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http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/real-opposition-to-qatar-is-from-within-the-country-1.2100615

Iran’s Javad Zarif and Sheikh Tamim hold talks in Doha

October 4, 2017

Al Jazeera

Foreign minister’s visit comes after restoration of full diplomatic ties with Qatar and against backdrop of GCC crisis.

The visit is Zarif’s first to Doha since Saudi bloc imposed a land, air and sea blockade [Reuters]

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for talks on relations and strengthening “cooperation” between the two countries after almost four months of a blockade against Qatar.

The visit is Zarif’s first to Doha since four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on 5 June and imposed a land, air and sea blockade.

“During the meeting, they reviewed relations of cooperation between the two countries in various fields as well as exchanged views on the current situation in the region,” a statement from Qatar News Agency said, referring to Tuesday’s talks.

Zarif’s trip comes after Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Iran in August.


READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf rift – The Iran factor


In January 2016, Qatar had pulled its ambassador from Tehran over attacks on Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission there, after the kingdom executed a Shia religious scholar.

Iranian state media published images of Zarif at the Doha meeting and quoted him as saying: “None of the regional crises have a military solution.”

All sides should “give priority to regional initiations for restoring collective stability and security”.

Zarif on Monday met Omani officials, including Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who has ruled Oman since 1970 and has served as an interlocutor between the West and Iran.

Kuwait has tried unsuccessfully to mediate the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis, as has the US, which has a major military base in Qatar.

On June 22, the Saudi bloc issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions.

The quartet accuses Qatar of supporting “extremism” and fostering ties with Iran. Qatar has rejected the allegations as well as the demands, and the quartet now consider the list “null and void”.

Survey on Iran

Against this backdrop, a new academic survey published this week suggests that the average citizens in the Arab members of the GCC do not see Iran as an existential threat in the same way some of their leaders do.

Face-to-face surveys of over 4,000 GCC citizens conducted in recent months found that with the exception of Bahrain, the spread of violent organisations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group represented their biggest worry, said Justin Gengler, a senior researcher at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University.

READ MORE: Qatar-GCC crisis: All the latest updates

Gengler said the survey, funded by the Qatar National Research Fund before the Gulf crisis began and conducted along with researchers from the University of Michigan, was conducted in every GCC country except the UAE.

Gengler first published his results on Monday in the prestigious Foreign Affairsmagazine. The margin of error was below four percent among the surveys in each country.

Asked about the results, Gengler told the Associated Press news agency, Iran offered a convenient foe for Arab Gulf states struggling with internal problems and low global oil prices.

Political differences

Leaders in the Arab Gulf countries, those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE especially, view Iran with suspicion after its recent advances on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.

They also worry about Iran’s nuclear programme and the 2015 deal that Iran struck with world powers over it.

Late last month, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said the quartet’s blockade was pushing Qatar into closer economic ties with Iran despite political differences.

“They said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran,” he said in comments in Paris.

“Is that their objective, to push one country, a GCC member state towards Iran? This is not a wise objective.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Thousands of Qatar World Cup workers ‘subject to life-threatening heat’ — Blockading nations critical of Qatar on human rights grounds….

September 27, 2017

By 
The Guardian

Tuesday 26 September 2017 

Image may contain: one or more people and people standingQatar’s Supreme Committee opened Khalifa International Stadium, the first completed 2022 World Cup venue, in May 2017. Photograph: Neville Hopwood/Getty Images for Qatar 2022

Many thousands of migrant workers on construction sites in Qatar, including those building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, are being subjected to potentially life-threatening heat and humidity, according to new research on the extreme summer conditions in the Gulf. Hundreds of workers are dying every year, the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a strong statement, but they claim that the Qatar authorities have refused to make necessary information public or adequately investigate the deaths, which could be caused by labouring in the region’s fierce climate.

HRW argues that millions of workers are in jeopardy, including those in the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – because statutory work breaks imposed during summer midday hours do not protect them sufficiently. An analysis of the weather in Doha last summer has also shown that workers on World Cup construction projects were in danger, despite the more advanced system used by the tournament organiser, Humidex, which measures safety levels of heat and humidity.

“Enforcing appropriate restrictions on outdoor work and regularly investigating and publicising information about worker deaths is essential to protect the health and lives of construction workers in Qatar,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said. “Limiting work hours to safe temperatures, not set by a clock or calendar, is well within the capacity of the Qatari government and will help protect hundreds of thousands of workers.”

In 2012, the Qatari government revealed 520 people from Bangladesh, India and Nepal – whose citizens travel in their hundreds of thousands to do construction work in the Gulf – had died. Of these, 385, or almost three-quarters, had died “from causes that the authorities neither explained nor investigated”, HRW said. Last year the Qatari government told HRW that 35 workers died, “mostly from falls, presumably at construction sites”, but this did not take into account hundreds more people who died from heart attacks and other “natural causes”, patchily reported by their countries’ embassies and unexplained by the authorities.

The “Supreme Committee” organising the 2022 World Cup, which Fifa originally voted in 2010 could be played in the summer but has since been moved to winter, is striving to enact higher welfare standards than those generally applied for the two million migrant workers in Qatar. It has disclosed that 10 workers on World Cup projects died between October 2015 and July this year, classifying eight of these, three of them men in their 20s, as “non-work related” because they resulted from cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. HRW argues that these classifications are meaningless, effectively only a statement that the person has died because their heart and breathing stopped.

HRW said in its statement that such descriptions “obscure the underlying cause of deaths and make it impossible to determine whether [the workers’ deaths] may be related to working conditions, such as heat stress.”

One World Cup construction worker who died, Jaleshwar Prasad, 48, was stated by the Supreme Committee to have suffered cardiac arrest, with the hospital reporting that “work duties were not a contributory factor”. The temperature in Qatar the day before Prasad died, 26 April 2016, peaked at 39C, HRW said.

Nicholas McGeehan, who carried out the research for HRW, accused the Qatari government and the Supreme Committee of a “wilful abdication of responsibility” for the health and safety of workers.

“Their heat protection system is inappropriate and data shows that its enforcement is seriously deficient,” McGeehan said. “That means they are putting stadium workers’ lives at risk.”

Outdoor workers generally in Qatar must not be made to work between 11.30am and 3pm from 15 June to 31 August, according to a government decree issued in 2007. HRW describes that measure, which it said is broadly reproduced by the other GCC countries, as “rudimentary” because it does not relate breaks to the actual working conditions outside those hours.

Analysis of the UK Meteorological Office climate record for Doha last year, seen by the Guardian, showed that according to the Humidex measure, it was not safe for an acclimatised person to do even moderately strenuous work outside, for 1,176 hours, including night time. The statutory government break added up to only 273 hours last summer, while the Supreme Committee, using the Humidex system, said that it imposed only an additional 150 hours of breaks to that government total.

HRW has called on the Qatari and other Gulf country authorities, including the Supreme Committee, to use a different heat stress measure, the wet bulb global temperature (WBGT), which also takes sunlight into account, to avoid “potentially fatal heat-related illnesses.”

The extreme climate in the Gulf, measured against the WBGT and the Humidex system, makes working at almost any time of day or night in July, August and the first half of September dangerous, McGeehan said.

Approximately two million immigrants do the overwhelming bulk of manual work in Qatar, where the indigenous population, the world’s wealthiest on average due to the country’s vast reserves of natural gas, numbers only around 300,000. Approximately 800,000 men from the poorer south Asian countries work on the country’s huge construction projects, including 12,000, expected to rise to 35,000, building the World Cup stadiums. During the hot months, migrant workers are frequently the only people seen spending any extended time outside the country’s air-conditioned buildings and vehicles.

The HRW statement criticises the Qatari government for failing to implement the recommendations of a 2014 report by the law firm DLA Piper, which the government itself commissioned. The report followed an international outcry over the number of workers dying in Qatar just as the massive new infrastructure programme was being commissioned.

It noted that the number of deaths in Qatar attributed to cardiac arrest was “seemingly high” and called for transparent publication and investigation, including a legal reform to permit postmortem examinations in cases of sudden deaths. That recommendation has also not been implemented and legal constraints continue. HRW argues that this has prevented inquiries being conducted into how workers are dying and adequate measures being put in place to protect their health and safety.

“We need data on deaths, new laws on heat protection and immediate investigations, otherwise the death toll will continue to rise,” McGeehan said.

The Supreme Committee sent the Guardian a detailed explanation of how its breaks system works using the Humidex measure, and of the restrictions on postmortems in Qatar, but has not yet responded to the criticisms.

A spokesman for the Qatari government said it is committed to labour reforms, and confirmed that it did make public last year deaths and injuries that were “work-related”.

“The government investigates all migrant worker deaths in Qatar and coordinates with the embassies of labour-sending countries to repatriate the deceased,” the spokesman said.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/27/thousands-qatar-world-cup-workers-life-threatening-heat

Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim urges response to call to end crisis — “Hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to the invitation for a national meeting”.

September 19, 2017

Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani has released a statement saying that he “hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to the invitation for a national meeting”.

Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim said in a video message broadcasted on Sky News Arabia to the Qatari people that the Qatari government has “allowed the intruders and the haters to spread their poison in every direction until we reached the brink of catastrophe”.

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“It saddens me to that what is mentioned in this crisis consist of terrorist organizations and Qatar’s embrace of them and the proliferation of terrorist groups among us. It is as if Doha has become an incubator for all the saboteurs and corrupters”.

The Paris-based Qatari sheikh said that he placed his trust in “the wisdom of King Salman and the leaders of countries and their deep love for us by standing with us”.

On Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani called on the “wise men” of the ruling family in Qatar and the country’s prominent figures to meet to resolve the Qatari crisis, which amounted to direct incitement to the Arab Gulf.

ENGLISH STATEMENT IN FULL:

You all know that the situation today is quite critical. Our brothers in the Gulf and the Arab world have ostracized us because of fatal errors that were committed against them alongside ugly practices done against their existence; these actions were committed in our name, from our land and with our tools.

These people are in fact our enemies. Because of the government’s policy which allowed hateful bitter people to deepen its roots in Qatar and spread their poison everywhere, we have bitterly reached the abyss. Our goal today is to stand together to purge our land from these outsiders and to continue our development efforts to bring pride to our country Qatar in an effort to gain a more civic and humanitarian role and aspect. We need to stand together to protect Qatar from terrorist organizations.

My worst fear is that one day the Qatari citizen will become associated with terrorism. I am most fearful that we would be rejected from everyone worldwide, along with the rupture with our neighboring countries.

Today, I live in Paris. Ever since the crisis broke, I couldn’t handle becoming a stranger in my own country. Strangers came flooding like the colonizers, intervening in our internal affairs under the pretext of protecting us from our people in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf whom we consider as our ancestors and family. We are the grandchildren of Sheikh Jassim and many other great men who have built this great country.

I am saddened that this crisis brought to light all of these terrorist organizations and these violent groups along with an interference with the affairs of other countries and a sabotage of their security and wellbeing. As if Doha has become an incubator to all the corrupts and the wicked and a platform to serve their agendas.

While in reality, if Qatar would be faced with hardships, they would be the first to leave the ship. They only care about exploiting our country and using our resources, they wouldn’t care about us at all because they are not connected to us, and they have no families nor loved ones. They are full of bitterness and hatred against the Gulf people and Qatar is no exception. It’s a shame that Qatar is used as a façade and a weapon to destroy its people, its dignity, its history and its entire entity only to become a victim of their practices later on.

In this context, I endorse all calls for a meeting hoping that all the members of the ruling family, distinguished members and thinkers to engage in this meeting so they can become one hand to protect Qatar from enemies and deserters.

I am full of confidence of King Salman and the leaders of the Arab countries of their stand with Qatar, may god always bestow peaceful relations between us and may all mistakes be corrected to end these nightmares that have plagued us.

Sultan Bin Suhaim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

Last Update: Tuesday, 19 September 2017 KSA 23:27 – GMT 20:27
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Sheikh Tamim: Qatar ready to talk to end Gulf crisis

September 17, 2017

Al Jazeera

Qatari emir restates readiness to sit at the negotiating table during meeting with German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin.

Merkel says she is concerned there is still no solution to the crisis [Michael Sohn/AP]

The Qatari emir says he is ready to sit at a negotiating table to solve the three-month-long regional crisis.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is on his first foreign trip since Qatar’s diplomatic rift with its Arab neighbours.

“As you know we have had a siege of more than 100 days against Qatar,” Sheikh Tamim said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday.

“We spoke about Qatar’s readiness to sit at the table to solve this issue.”

Merkel’s government has announced efforts to mediate in the crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severing diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June.

READ MORE: Qatar presses UN to take action against blockade

The Arab states accuse Qatar of backing “terrorism”, an allegation Qatar denies.

Germany has been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis, with Merkel inviting all sides to sit at the table.

She said she was concerned that there was still no solution to the crisis, adding she supported efforts by Kuwait and the US to mediate an end to the dispute.

“Germany is not a part of this conflict, but would like, in line with its values, to help get this conflict resolved in such a way that all can keep their face,” Merkel said.

“We view with concern the fact that 100 days since the start of the conflict no solutions can yet be seen,” Merkel told the joint press conference.

“And we spoke about the need for all the parties to sit at one table again as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: All the latest updates of the Qatar-Gulf crisis

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, has said the country’s intelligence service would play a role in clearing up accusations that Qatar supports “terrorist” groups.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said Germany is attempting to ratchet up diplomatic pressure to get the feuding nations on the same table.

“The German desire here is to play a more broad role, diplomatically speaking, in the Gulf area and it clearly wants this issue to be dealt with as speedily and peacefully as possible,” he said.

Sheikh Tamim was expected to fly out to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron later on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said that momentum seems to be building towards a diplomatic resolution.

“There is certainly a need to go beyond the last 100 days, now that there is an understanding by every leader around the world that the dispute must be resolved diplomatically, sooner rather than later,” he said from London.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Regional dispute over Qatar hurting all: Moody’s

September 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | A boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states is hurting the economies of all the countries involved, with Bahrain and Qatar the most affected, Moody’s Investor Service said

DUBAI (AFP) – A boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states is hurting the economies of all the countries involved, with Bahrain and Qatar the most affected, Moody’s Investor Service said Wednesday.

The row has translated into a credit negative for the entire six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, Moody’s said in a report.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 severed diplomatic ties and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of backing radical Islamist groups.

Doha has denied the charges.

“The severity of the diplomatic dispute between Gulf countries is unprecedented, which magnifies the uncertainty over the ultimate economic, fiscal and social impact on the GCC as a whole,” said Steffen Dyck, Moody’s vice president.

Qatar faces large economic, financial and social costs stemming from related travel and trade restrictions, it said.

The impact on Qatar so far has been most acute for trade, tourism and the banking sector.

Sizeable capital outflows in the vicinity of $30 billion flowed out of Qatar’s banking system in June and July, with further declines expected as GCC banks opt not to roll over their deposits, Moody’s said.

It estimates that Qatar used $38.5 billion — equivalent to 23 percent of its GDP — to support the economy in the first two months of sanctions.

Moody’s said it does not expect that Qatar will have to borrow from the international capital market this year, but its financing costs will increase.

The standoff could also impair the sustainability of Bahrain’s currency peg to the US dollar and will also increase the cost of borrowing for the kingdom, the poorest of the six oil-rich GCC nations.

The diplomatic rift will inevitably impair the functioning of the GCC more severely as the row prolongs.

Blockade attempt to force Qatar into ‘trusteeship’: minister

September 11, 2017
© AFP | Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani
GENEVA (AFP) – Qatar’s foreign minister on Monday slammed the “illegal” blockade against his country, insisting it was aimed at forcing it into a “state of trusteeship”.Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani decried the “illegal siege which clearly violates international laws.”

Qatar has been hit by a land and air embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who cut ties with Doha on June 5 accusing it of backing extremists.

But Al-Thani insisted that “it is no secret that the real motives behind the siege and the severing of diplomatic relations with the state of Qatar were not aimed at fighting terrorism.”

“But rather an attempt to force Qatar into a state of trusteeship to interfere in its foreign policy, to undermine its sovereignty and to interfere in its domestic policy.”

Qatar “cannot tolerate this situation,” he said.

His comments came after Saudi Arabia vowed Sunday to keep pressuring Qatar until demands by the bloc of Arab states had been met, dampening hopes for a US-mediated resolution to their diplomatic crisis.

The bloc’s 13 demands include Doha ending its alleged support for Islamist extremist groups, closing a Turkish military base in the emirate and downgrading diplomatic ties with Tehran.

The Saudi move came just two days after US President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a bid to mediate.

Trump said he believed the dispute between Riyadh and Doha, both key US allies, could be solved “fairly easily”.

The Saudi and Qatari rulers spoke by phone on Saturday, raising hope for talks.

But Riyadh later suspended the dialogue, accusing Doha of distorting facts by wrongly implying that Saudi Arabia had initiated the outreach.

On Monday, Al-Thani stressed his country’s “readiness for dialogue to end this crisis.

“We are willing to talk to them, we are ready to engage if it is based on principles which are not violating the international law and respect the sovereignty of each country,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the rights council.