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Qatar names Saudi envoy as Gulf ties improve

Bandar Mohamed Abdullah al-Attiyah will serve as Qatar's first ambassador to Saudi Arabia since the 2017 Gulf row.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (C), clad in mask as part of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic protocols, cheers during the Amir Cup final football match between al-Sadd and al-Arabi at Al-Rayyan Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on Dec. 18, 2020.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed an ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the latest sign of warming ties with the kingdom after the years-long Gulf dispute. 

Qatar's state news agency QNA announced on Wednesday that Bandar Mohamed Abdullah al-Attiyah will serve as Qatar’s newest envoy to Saudi Arabia. From 2018 until 2021 Attiyah was Qatar’s ambassador to Kuwait, which has long acted as a mediator between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors.

Attiyah’s appointment comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt reached a “solidarity and stability” pact with Qatar in January aimed at easing their diplomatic and economic blockade. 

The Saudi-led bloc had severed diplomatic relations with Doha and imposed an air, sea and land embargo on the gas-rich country in June 2017, accusing Qatar of funding terrorism and backing Iran. Doha denies supporting terrorist groups but admits to supporting Islamist movements including Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.  

During the more than three-year spat, Qatar refused to comply with the Quartet’s 13 conditions for lifting the three-year blockade, including cutting ties with Iran and shutting down the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera TV network. 

Qatar’s ties with the quartet have improved since the signing of the January unity deal, although Bahrain and the UAE haven’t restored diplomatic relations with their former regional rival. 

In May, Qatar’s emir met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for talks focused on enhancing bilateral relations. 

In June, Riyadh and Cairo reinstated their envoys to Doha. Last month, Qatar named Salem bin Mubarak Al-Shafi as the country’s ambassador to Egypt.  

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