AP PHOTOS: A year into boycott, few signs of crisis in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Across the glittering high-rise towers of Qatar, the face of the country’s ruler still seems to be everywhere a year after Arab nations imposed a boycott on his tiny, gas-rich country.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and cut air, ground and sea links to Qatar over its alleged support of terrorist groups and its warm relations with Iran. But Qatar’s massive natural gas reserves and close ties with other countries in the region have allowed it to weather the crisis, and daily life has gone on largely unchanged.
There are signs of the boycott here and there — grocery stores once filled with dairy products from neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has shut down Qatar’s only land border, now stock items from Turkey and Iran. Air routes have been disrupted, with the country’s flagship Qatar Airways forced to reroute flights through Oman or over Iranian airspace.
Construction is still underway at some skyscrapers, and at the stadiums being built ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The country’s massive shopping malls are doing brisk business, particularly as people seek air-conditioned refuge from the sweltering summer heat, with temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
Portraits of Qatar’s ruling emir, 38-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, are plastered across public places, and he remains a symbol of Qatar’s independence and defiance of the boycott. President Donald Trump, who at times has appeared to side with the boycotting nations, welcomed the emir to the White House in April.
Qatar strongly denies supporting terrorism, but it backs the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist opposition groups outlawed as terrorists by the boycotting nations. It has also long maintained warm ties with Saudi Arabia’s archrival Iran, with which it shares a large underwater gas field.
Qatari police officers in national dress, wearing crisscrossing bandoliers, patrol some areas of Doha on horseback, a nod to a time before Qatar’s vast natural gas wealth when rifle-carrying cavalry defended the emirate. Today, Qatar has a modern military and hosts some 10,000 American forces at the vast al-Udeid Air Base. So far though, this dispute has only been one of words.
Follow Kamran Jebreili on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kamranjebreili .