Qatar’s emir met the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Beijing Winter Olympics in the first such interaction between the two Gulf leaders since a dispute between Doha and four Arab countries came to an end last year.
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the sidelines of a lunch hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, Qatar’s state news agency reported on Sunday.
UAE news websites published a video clip of the two Gulf leaders speaking.
The leaders of Uzbekistan, Ecuador and Tajikistan were also present at the gathering at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The UAE has yet to restore diplomatic ties with Doha since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January 2021 to end a four-year dispute that had led them to cut diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar in mid-2017.
لقاء أخوي ودي يجمع صاحب السمو الشيخ محمد بن زايد وسمو الأمير تميم بن حمد خلال حضورهم أولمبياد بكين pic.twitter.com/senSCdaVnt
— مصدر (@MSDAR_NEWS) February 5, 2022
However, a senior UAE official held talks with Qatar’s leader in Doha last year – the first such visit in four years – after the bitter dispute ended. National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a brother of the UAE’s de facto ruler, met Sheikh Tamim in August.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt last year appointed ambassadors to Qatar. All but Bahrain have restored travel and trade links.
The dispute erupted over complaints about Qatar’s independent foreign policy, including its close ties to Iran and Turkey.
The UAE, under a more conciliatory foreign policy driven by economic priorities, is now engaging with both Tehran and Ankara after years of badly strained relations.