The Gulf crisis and more

The Gulf crisis –that is Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain imposing a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar is likely to be ongoing. Kuwait and Oman are remaining neutral, which is typically the case. Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and have accused it of funding terrorism- an accusation that Qatar denies. They later issued a 13-point list of demands, among them being the closure of the news network Al Jazeera, that have been rejected by Qatar.

 The crisis is a worry, not just for regional stability but also for the ex-pats who live there. One of the reasons why people move to the Gulf (I lived in Dubai for 8.5 years) is the ease of travelling to other countries around the region, as well as to Africa and Europe. Of course, that’s no longer the case. It’s not possible to jump on a plane and head to Qatar for the weekend- although it’s normally the other way round. I remember ex-pats who lived in Qatar telling me they would come to Dubai for the weekend to buy bacon and pork, and sneak the goods back into Qatar, since you couldn’t buy them there.

 No matter the extent to which the Gulf countries protest against Qatar there remains a nagging feeling that there is more to the argument than Saudi Arabia and its allies are suggesting.

 It’s worth always remembering that what makes these countries tick is money- and the country that makes the most, usually wins. Hence, it’s not surprising that Saudi and its allies have teamed up against Qatar. Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world by GDP per capita on a PPP basis, according to the IMF. In 2016, Qatar had GDP per capita of USD 129,726 compared with the UAE’s number nine ranking with USD 67,696 and Saudi Arabia’s number 14th ranking with USD 54,078.

According to IMF and World Bank estimates, projections for 2017, once again put Qatar at number one.

 Maybe this is because Qatar is the world’s producer of liquefied petroleum gas? The other countries are, for the most part, reliant on oil, especially Saudi Arabia. The USA is catching up fast though as the world’s second largest oil producer, next to Saudi, as a result of shale oil production.

 Qatar is still the world's largest producer of LNG, which is natural gas chilled to liquid form for shipment on tanker ships. In December last year, it announced that it is merging Qatargas and the smaller Rasgas. Total, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have stakes in the Qatargas production lines. However, Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc is fast developing its gas production.

 One of the reasons cited for the sanctions against Qatar is that the government is funding terrorism. Yet Qatar charities have signed deal with the UN worth USD 8.5 with Syria, according to Al Jazeera.

 They are also concerns about the UAE’s human rights record as written by this article on Al Jazeera. “Rights groups say torture is carried out with impunity and political dissidents are singled out for abuse.”

So what is the real reason behind the sanctions against Qatar? And will they end sometime soon?








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Wednesday, 17 August 2022