Qatar Airways suspends all flights to Saudi Arabia

Qatar Airways suspends all flights to Saudi Arabia

Six countries have cut ties with Qatar, one of the richest states in the Middle East, calling into question the future of a powerful 36-year-old Gulf states union.

UAE nationals are also banned from travelling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories, according to the UAE's state-owned news agency WAM. Yemen's internationally backed government, which no longer holds its capital and large portions of the country, also cut relations with Qatar.

Several airlines from those countries earlier announced they would no longer fly to Qatar.

Citizens of these countries have been barred entry to Qatar and Qataris have also been barred entry to these four countries.

Qatar was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Local media in Qatar reported there was already some panic buying as people stock up on food.

Although Qatar is relatively small in size, the major works programmes that have been taking place in the run-up to the forthcoming World Cup has meant that it is a market that has been attractive both to regional and global construction companies for many years.

As part of the measures, Saudi Arabia said it would pull Qatari support from the Yemen war.

This is also partly because crude production in the United States, which is not participating in the cuts, has jumped by over 10 percent since mid-2016 to 9.34 million bpd, close to levels by top producers Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation.

"The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications", the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement.

Qatar said there was "no legitimate justification" for the coordinated action, adding that its citizens would not be affected by the "violation of its sovereignty".

Qatar Airways suspends all flights to Saudi Arabia
Qatar Airways suspends all flights to Saudi Arabia

Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, said it would suspend flights to Qatar "until further notice".

Soccer's governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association said on Monday it was in "regular contact" with the organising committee of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, though it did not comment directly on the diplomatic situation involving the Gulf State.

In the time since, Qatar repeatedly and strongly denied it funds extremist groups. It severed ties with longtime foe Iran after January 2016 attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney on Monday that the spat would not effect the fight against Islamist militants and that Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

"We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences", he said on June 5.

The decision comes after Qatar alleged in late May that hackers took over the site of its state-run news agency and published what it called fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel.

The stories quoted him questioning USA hostility towards Iran, speaking of "tensions" between Doha and Washington and speculating that Trump might not remain in power for long.

A note by analysts at BMI Research said that it believes that Doha "will make considerable efforts to avoid a substantial prolongation or further escalation" of the current situation, but if a prolonged spat developed between Qatar and other GCC states, this could make it more hard for the country to import materials needed for World Cup-linked projects, potentially leading to delays.

Swimming governing body FINA did not respond to requests for a comment on Monday as to whether it would still go ahead.

Qatar had no immediate comment.

Shiite-majority Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has intensified a crackdown on dissent since Trump's visit last month.

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