Siege against Qatar hurting blockading states: The Economist

 22 Oct 2017 - 11:59

By Mohammad Shoeb | The Peninsula

The ongoing siege against Qatar imposed by four Arab countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is also hurting the blockading countries, and some of enforcing states are really facing tough time, noted a report by The Economist, the London-based leading periodical.

The report, published on its website on October 19, with a headline ‘The boycott of Qatar is hurting its enforcers’, also noted that “If Saudis and Emiratis will not trade with Doha, Iranians will”, suggesting that Qatar is not the only looser, and in the political and diplomatic standoff among Gulf states, Iran is the real beneficiary of the blockade. 

The article, which also appeared in the Middle East and Africa’s print edition of the English-language weekly magazine, said: “the boycott is also hurting others across the Gulf, including some of the countries that imposed it. Particularly hard-hit is Dubai, a services hub for the region. Qatari firms that do business in the UAE all use local partners, and many are feeling the pain. One public-relations executive says her firm is discussing layoffs after losing a Qatari contract. Estate agents say the crisis will also hit Dubai’s property market: Qataris bought about $500m-worth of property there last year alone.”

It has been more than four months since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly closed their borders and cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, cutting supplies of all goods and services, including essentials, that too during the month of Ramadan. 

The report by the world-renowned magazine-format newspaper also said that the dispute has become personal, with diplomats “hurling insults in Cairo last month”. And officials in energy-rich country, with massive foreign reserves and one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, expect it will drag on for years and determined to translating the challenges into opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency. 

The report also highlighted the impact of the Qatar’ newly-opened world-class Hamad Port on its rival ports in the region, especially Dubai’s Jebel Ali, which, until recently, served as the main trans-shipment for Qatar’s exports and imports.

Commenting on the looming changes in the regional maritime landscape, the reported said: “South of Dubai’s glittering skyscrapers lies Jebel Ali, the busiest port in the region. It handles more than a third of cargoes in the Gulf and, before the boycott, 85 % of shipborne cargo for Qatar. Neighbours have long wanted to grab its market share. In September Qatar opened a new $7.4bn port, years in the making, that allows shippers to bypass the UAE altogether. Saudi Arabia is building a port on its west coast, near Jeddah, just south of the Suez canal. The blockade will accelerate this shift from Dubai. Qatar Navigation, a shipping conglomerate, is moving its regional hub from the UAE to Oman, which has not joined the boycott. Its trade with Qatar grew by 2,000% this summer. Traffic at its port, Salalah, is up 29%.”

The magazine, with over 1.55 million circulation (print edition) and millions of online readers, added that the blockade is also weakening the six-country Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), of which Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members. “Although it was never much of a political union, it had at least allowed goods and people to move freely across borders. But the boycott has upended that.”