Kuwait’s ruler will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, hoping to heal a damaging rift between Qatar and powerful Arab states over the former’ s alleged support of Islamist militants and of political and religious rival Iran.
Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and seek to resolve the worst infighting among the Arab world’s strongest and richest powers in decades.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar and closed their airspace to commercial flights on Monday.
In a sign of the potential consequences for the Qatari economy, a number of banks in the region began stepping back from business dealings with Qatar. Saudi Arabia’s central bank advised banks in the kingdom not to trade with Qatari banks in Qatari riyals, sources said.
Oil prices also fell on concern that the rift would undermine efforts by OPEC to tighten production.
Qatar and the other Arab states fell out over Doha’s alleged support for Islamist militants and Shia Iran, charges Qatar has called baseless.
It said, however, that it would not retaliate and hoped Kuwait would help resolve the dispute.
The United States, Russia, France, Iran and Turkey have all called for the row to be resolved through dialogue.
Banks shun Qatar, flights diverted
Tightening pressure, Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority revoked the license of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to be closed within 48 hours, a day after the kingdom, the UAE and Bahrain closed their airspace to Qatari commercial flights.
Flight tracker websites showed Qatar Airways flights taking a circuitous route mostly over Iran to avoid their neighbours.
Some Saudi Arabian and UAE commercial banks were also shunning Qatari banks, holding off on letters of credit, banking sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Monday’s decision forbids Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens from travelling to Qatar, residing in it or passing through it, instructing their citizens to leave Qatar within 14 days and Qatari nationals were given 14 days to leave those countries.
The measures are more severe than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups.
The United Arab Emirates said Qatar needed to carry out specific confidence-building measures and change its behaviour.