Doha.biz – Technology, Business, Health, Life, Travel, Advertising, Real Estate, and Much More http://doha.biz Doha.biz - Technology, Business, Health, Life, Travel, Advertising, Real Estate, and Much More Thu, 03 Aug 2017 17:05:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 PSG signing Neymar a PR coup for isolated Qatar http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/psg-signing-neymar-pr-coup-isolated-qatar/ http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/psg-signing-neymar-pr-coup-isolated-qatar/#respond Thu, 03 Aug 2017 17:05:55 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59525 LONDON (AP) If world soccer’s transfer record is obliterated by Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, it will be a coup for the French club – and the tiny energy-rich emirate of Qatar. By signing the Brazilian star for its flagship sporting asset, Qatar would be projecting a business-as-usual image to foreign allies and investors after […]

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LONDON (AP) If world soccer’s transfer record is obliterated by Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, it will be a coup for the French club – and the tiny energy-rich emirate of Qatar.

By signing the Brazilian star for its flagship sporting asset, Qatar would be projecting a business-as-usual image to foreign allies and investors after two months locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute with its neighbors.

While a footnote in monetary terms in Qatar’s wider investment portfolio, the immensely wealthy 2022 World Cup host nation has long used sports as a way to elevate its stature . Signing one of the most recognizable and marketable figures in the sports world would be an extravagant demonstration of that.

Meeting Neymar’s mandatory fee of 222 million euros ($262 million) would be the most significant move yet to join the soccer elite by PSG as it prepares for its seventh season under ownership that is closely linked to Qatar’s ruling family.

”They are trying to literally score a point here,” said Christopher Davidson, who teaches Middle East politics at Durham University in northeast England. ”It sounds like a lot of money but given the stakes are hundreds of billions of dollars because of the World Cup, Neymar will be seen as a sound investment by Qatar.

”It proves they have the funds available and they have some liquidity to still be taken seriously.”

Qatar has been waging an international public relations offensive to fend off accusations by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain that it supports extremists.

Qatar strongly denies the allegation and sees the boycott by its regional rivals as a politically motivated attempt to change its foreign policy and undermine its sovereignty, with the natural gas-rich country’s only land border sealed off.

Soccer stars have not been deterred from flying into Doha, helping to give the impression that the desert nation is weathering the boycott.

Barcelona players Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba recently visited a soccer academy and greeted fans at a mall in the Qatari capital. Alba was photographed signing a shirt with an image of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani that has become a symbol of resistance to the boycott. That came after Spain’s Xavi Hernandez, who now plays for Qatari side Al-Saad, released a video message calling for an ”end to the blockade against Qatar.”

The diplomatic row has bled into Qatar’s extensive sports empire in other ways too.

An Egyptian soccer coach, Hossam el-Badry, who manages Egypt’s Al Ahly, was suspended and fined $10,000 by the Confederation of African Football for refusing to give interviews to the Qatar-based beIN Sports network following two games in the African Champions League last month.

In the Gulf, many view beIN as remaining closely linked to Al-Jazeera, which was founded by Qatar’s former emir and is one of the country’s best-known international brands. Al-Jazeera previously operated sports channels that were rebranded as beIN Sports and beIN Media Group was spun off into a separate company in 2014.

The anti-Qatar quartet has demanded that Al-Jazeera and other Qatar-backed media outlets be shut down as a condition of normalizing relations.

Qatari officials have made a point of saying that the vast construction project for the World Cup has been unaffected by the blockade. But they have acknowledged that import costs overall have risen dramatically for items such as food and medicine, which now need to be flown in or shipped by sea from points further afield.

While big-ticket assets like British department store Harrods can seem more financially astute investments for Qatar, sports entities and events enjoy a higher profile.

Qatar hosted the 2006 Asian Games and the Asian Cup football finals in 2011, and stages annual tennis and motorcycle grand prix events.

All those will pale in comparison to its controversial hosting of the World Cup in 2022 – the first time the FIFA showpiece will be held in the Middle East. The tournament, which will be played in eight stadiums across a country smaller than the U.S. state of Connecticut, is the centerpiece of footballing ambitions that were minuscule in Qatar before the FIFA vote.

In 2004, it set up the Aspire Academy to train promising young Qatari and foreign players. State-backed Qatar Airways was named in May as a sponsor to soccer’s world governing body FIFA, and until the end of June was the main sponsor of Barcelona.

Barcelona enjoys the global stature and track record of success craved by PSG, which is yet to win European soccer’s top Champions League title despite the lavish investment from Qatar Sports Investments.

Linked to the country’s leadership, QSI describes itself as a ”closed shareholding organization” that is chaired by Nasser Ghanim al-Khelaifi, a Qatari former tennis player who is also chairman and CEO of beIN.

The sports network was caught up in the diplomatic dispute too, with its signal along with that of Al-Jazeera cut for viewers in the boycotting countries. That it seems was a step too far though. The UAE unblocked the network more than a week ago to the delight of fans in the seven-state federation that’s home to the commercial hub of Dubai.

It will be through beIN that Neymar’s matches from PSG are beamed onto screens across the Middle East if a transfer that would provide a potent example of Qatar’s sporting firepower is completed.

”This signing can demonstrate that Qatar is still viable, still able to have international influence and still able to be serious player in international soccer,” said Davidson, the Middle East expert.

Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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Qatar is buying 7 navy vessels from Italy for $5.91 billion http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/qatar-buying-7-navy-vessels-italy-5-91-billion/ http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/qatar-buying-7-navy-vessels-italy-5-91-billion/#respond Thu, 03 Aug 2017 17:00:55 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59520 (Reuters) – Qatar has concluded a 5 billion euro ($5.91 billion) deal with Italy for seven navy vessels, the Qatari foreign minister said on Wednesday, part of a military cooperation agreement between the two countries. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani made the announcement at a news conference with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Doha […]

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(Reuters) – Qatar has concluded a 5 billion euro ($5.91 billion) deal with Italy for seven navy vessels, the Qatari foreign minister said on Wednesday, part of a military cooperation agreement between the two countries.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani made the announcement at a news conference with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Doha after talks about efforts to end a rift between Qatar and four Arab states.

“I am pleased to announce the conclusion of a deal between the Qatari Emiri Naval Forces to buy 7 naval units from Italy in the context of the joint military cooperation between the two countries,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

He said the deal was estimated at 5 billion euros but gave no further details and did not name the companies involved.

In June last year Italy’s state-controlled shipbuilder Fincantieri said it had signed a 4-billion-euro agreement to build ships for Qatar.

At the time Fincantieri said it would supply the Gulf Arab state with four corvette warships, two support vessels and an amphibious landing platform dock, along with support services in Qatar for 15 years after delivery.

All the ships will be built in Italian shipyards, with construction starting in 2018, it said. Italian defence company Leonardo would supply electronics and weapons systems for the ships and receive around a third of the value of the deal, a company official said at the time.

Qatar is embroiled in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which accuse it of supporting Islamists and regional foe Iran, charges Doha denies.

($1 = 0.8457 euros) (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Sami Aboudi/Mark Heinrich)

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2017. Follow Reuters on Twitter.
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Qatar Buys Italian Warships as Persian Gulf Crisis Deepens http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/qatar-buys-italian-warships-persian-gulf-crisis-deepens/ http://doha.biz/2017/08/03/qatar-buys-italian-warships-persian-gulf-crisis-deepens/#respond Thu, 03 Aug 2017 16:58:58 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59517 DOHA, Qatar — Qatar agreed on Wednesday to buy seven Italian warships at a cost of nearly $6 billion in the latest example of checkbook defiance by the gas-rich country in its two-month-old feud with four neighboring Arab countries. The military deal between Qatar and Italy, announced by the foreign ministers of both countries in […]

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DOHA, Qatar — Qatar agreed on Wednesday to buy seven Italian warships at a cost of nearly $6 billion in the latest example of checkbook defiance by the gas-rich country in its two-month-old feud with four neighboring Arab countries.

The military deal between Qatar and Italy, announced by the foreign ministers of both countries in Doha, Qatar’s capital, was the latest in a slew of diplomatic and economic moves suggesting that the crisis, the worst to hit the Persian Gulf countries in decades, shows little sign of abating.

Days earlier, Qatar brought its fight with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to international aviation and trade forums, and was even seen to have advanced a breathtakingly pricey soccer transfer as a means of flexing its muscles.

The measures were countered by implacable demands from the Saudi-led quartet, and offered a sense of the challenge facing Western officials, led by the Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who have tried to defuse the crisis, so far in vain. On Tuesday, the State Department named Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a four-star Marine general who retired in 2000, as a special representative to the Persian Gulf. He is expected to arrive in the region next week.

On Monday, Qatar lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization against its neighbors, which have cut off all trade and diplomatic ties, and closed air and sea routes into the country. Saudi Arabia has shut Qatar’s only land border.
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Qatar also sought help this week from the United Nations aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization, in a bid to open new air corridors through the Emirates, which are currently closed.

A senior Qatari official said in an interview on Wednesday that his country would adopt a more aggressive strategy to attract foreign investors in a bid to snatch business away from its regional foes.

The four nation bloc, which accused Qatar of fomenting extremism, has issued a sweeping list of 13 demands, including the closing of Qatar’s influential television station, Al Jazeera, and a small Turkish military base, as well as the expulsion of several Islamists.

Qatar has rejected the demands, which it says amount to a surrender of its sovereignty. It has painted the dispute as a drive by bullying neighbors to crush Qatar’s maverick, open-door foreign policy.
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Western countries allied with both sides have found themselves in a diplomatic bind, even as they continue to sell expensive weapons system in the region.

The Italian warship deal that was completed on Wednesday involves the purchase of four corvettes, an amphibious vessel and two patrol boats. It was Qatar’s second major arms deal since the crisis began. In June, the United States agreed to sell Qatar F-15 fighter jets worth $12 billion.

Such deals are about more than military procurement for tiny Qatar, which has just 300,000 citizens but also possesses the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. Just as important, the purchases serve as means of cementing ties with Western allies, which in turn provides a strong diplomatic counterweight in Qatar’s often fractious dealings with its larger Arab neighbors.

A sprawling American air base near Doha with 9,000 American service members, from which American war planes attack the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has complicated the Trump administration’s approach to the crisis.

Qatari officials confirmed on Monday that they intended to take a more aggressive approach to longstanding business pacts in the gulf.

A senior Qatari official said the country intended to introduce a new law in the coming weeks that would drop restrictions on foreign investment, such as requiring a local partner for outside investors, in an aggressive bid for new business.

Until now, the official said, Qatar and its neighbors adhered to an unwritten agreement to avoid competing with one another in specified business domains. He said Qatar would now make an aggressive bid for foreign investments of all kinds.

In Washington, both sides have spent millions of dollars in recent weeks on lobbying contracts in a bid to influence to Trump administration, whose policy is divided, with President Trump criticizing Qatar and Mr. Tillerson defending it.
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Qatar athletics team preps for London Worlds http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/qatar-athletics-team-preps-london-worlds/ http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/qatar-athletics-team-preps-london-worlds/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:10:33 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59512 With a week to go before the IAAF World Championships in London, the Qatar national athletics team continues its preparations for the event that will see over 1,900 athletes from over 200 countries vie for glory. The Qatar team for the event that runs from August 4-13 includes Rio Olympics silver medallist high jumper Mutaz […]

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With a week to go before the IAAF World Championships in London, the Qatar national athletics team continues its preparations for the event that will see over 1,900 athletes from over 200 countries vie for glory.
The Qatar team for the event that runs from August 4-13 includes Rio Olympics silver medallist high jumper Mutaz Barshim, two-time world junior gold medallist hammer thrower Ashraf Elseify; javelin thrower Ahmed Bader, world indoor 400m silver medallist Abdalelah Haroun and 400m hurdles athlete Abderrahman Samba.
National and Asian record holder Barshim, who jumps off his left foot using the Fosbury Flop technique, has won all four Diamond League events he has participated in this season with a best of 2.38m in Oslo.
Barshim’s personal best is 2.43m, which he jumped in Brussels in September 2014. He followed up his bronze in 2012 London with a silver medal in Rio last year.
Bader’s qualification for the Rio Games was remarkably his first-ever senior participation and he was the youngest competitor in the discipline. He also became the first-ever Qatari to compete in javelin throw at an Olympic Games.
The young javelin thrower proved to be a formidable competitor after qualifying for Rio with an incredible throw of 84.74 metres.
He recently qualified for the London 2017 World Championships during the 16th GCC Athletics Championship.
Qatari hammer thrower Elseify, an Aspire Academy graduate, impressed many after his 2012 world junior championship effort of 85.57m, which is a world junior record. He then topped the 2014 edition of the championships with an 84.71m throw.
He has since finished second at the 2015 Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, and third at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku this year.
Another Aspire Academy graduate, Samba claimed top honours in the 400m hurdles event at the Doha Diamond League this year, powering to victory in a time of 48.44 seconds, while American Kerron Clement (49.40) and South African L J van Zyl (49.49) came in second and third.
Samba cruised to victory in the Sasol-NWU International athletics meeting earlier in March in South Africa with 48.31 seconds.
Haroun, who specialises in 400 metres, is the 2015 Asian champion in the event and holds the Asian indoor record.
His first recorded performance was a time of 45.74 seconds in Doha in April 2014, which placed him among the world’s most promising young sprinters for the event.
He announced himself on the elite scene in his next performance at the XL Galan in February 2015 by running an Asian indoor record of 45.39 seconds, which was also the third fastest ever by a junior category athlete and the fastest ever indoor debut.
Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) general secretary Mohamed Issa al-Fadala said, “Qatar’s athletes are determined and will put in all their efforts to achieve what we all hope for and take podium positions.
“We will work hard to boost the success of Qatari athletics, especially as Qatar will host the 17th edition of the IAAF World Championships in 2019 and then participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”
For his part, QAF board member and national team head Khalifa Abdulmalik said that the team will head to London next week after completing their European camps, while Abdalelah Haroun, who is currently training in Doha, will join them there.
Abdulmalik said that the athletes’ participation in the IAAF Diamond League has only added to their confidence and performance.
Veteran athlete, QAF board member and head of the Qatari delegation at the World Championships, Talal Mansour said that Qatar athletics has always strived to offer joy to the people of Qatar thanks to their superior performances in major tournaments and Olympic Games.
Mansour, who has never been absent from Qatar’s national athletics since he was 14 years old when he started his career as an athlete, pledged that Qatar will win three medals at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
QAF board member Khalid Rashid al-Marri too praised the athletes and added that the federation has been moving ahead according to plan as has been shown by recent performances.
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Football great Maradona backs use of video technology http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/football-great-maradona-backs-use-video-technology/ http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/football-great-maradona-backs-use-video-technology/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:08:28 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59509 Reuters London: Diego Maradona (pictured) has backed the use of video assistant referees (VARs) in soccer even though he is aware that his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal would not have stood if the technology had existed during his heyday. The goal during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England is one of […]

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Reuters

London: Diego Maradona (pictured) has backed the use of video assistant referees (VARs) in soccer even though he is aware that his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal would not have stood if the technology had existed during his heyday.
The goal during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England is one of the most talked about in the history of football, alongside his brilliant solo run past five defenders in the same game that gave his side a 2-1 victory.
The diminutive Argentine, who tapped the ball over the head of onrushing goalkeeper Peter Shilton with his fist to score his country’s first goal, gained even more notoriety when he claimed afterwards it had been scored by the ‘Hand of God’.
“Obviously I think about it whenever I show my support for the use of technology,” Maradona said in an interview posted on global soccer’s governing body FIFA’s website (www.fifa.com) on Tuesday.
“I thought about it and, sure, that goal wouldn’t have stood if technology had been around. And I’ll tell you something else: at the 1990 World Cup I used my hand to clear the ball off the line against the Soviet Union. We were lucky because the referee didn’t see it. You couldn’t use technology back then, but it’s a different story today.”
FIFA has tested VAR technology at several tournaments ahead of next year’s World Cup in Russia, including at last month’s Confederations Cup, and its head of refereeing Massimo Busacca said afterwards that the technology should be refined.
The governing body has already said it would like to use VAR at the 2018 World Cup, and soccer’s law-making body IFAB is expected to decide next March whether to allow them to become part of the game on a permanent basis. VAR involves two video assistant referees who monitor the action on screens and draw the match referee’s attention to possible officiating mistakes.
“Football can’t fall behind. Given the rate at which technology is advancing and the fact that every sport uses it, how can we not think about using it in football?”
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Qatar: UN should play a role in resolving Gulf crisis http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/qatar-un-play-role-resolving-gulf-crisis/ http://doha.biz/2017/07/28/qatar-un-play-role-resolving-gulf-crisis/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:05:58 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59506 Qatar’s foreign minister also accused the four Arab countries that have blockaded Doha of violating international law. Qatar’s foreign minister called on Thursday for the United Nations to help resolve the Gulf crisis and accused the four Arab countries that have imposed a blockade on Doha of violating international law. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al […]

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Qatar’s foreign minister also accused the four Arab countries that have blockaded Doha of violating international law.

Qatar’s foreign minister called on Thursday for the United Nations to help resolve the Gulf crisis and accused the four Arab countries that have imposed a blockade on Doha of violating international law.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are showing “stubbornness” and have not taken any steps to solve the crisis.

He vowed that Qatar would spare no effort to overcome what he called “violations” of international law and said, “the United Nations is the right platform to start from”.

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman spoke to reporters after discussing the crisis with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has supported regional efforts led by Kuwait to resolve the dispute.

OPINION: Qatar – Finding opportunities for reform in crisis

“There is a role for the Security Council and for the General Assembly and all the United Nations mechanisms” in resolving the crisis, said Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, adding that he briefed council members on the dispute a month ago.

“The state of Qatar has already stated more than 10 times that we want to solve this issue by dialogue and we are not willing to escalate – and they need to retreat from all their illegal actions,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said.

China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, told reporters that the Security Council would take up the crisis if there is a formal request.

“I think it’s something that should be sorted out among the brothers in the GCC and in the region,” he said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar belong to. “And I just hope there is a negotiation process for the various sides to sort out their difficulties.”
‘At a standstill’

In Washington, where Mohammed bin Abdulrahman met a day earlier with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the crisis appeared to be “at a standstill.”

“That naturally concerns us,” Nauert said. “We are urging direct talks between all of the parties because we believe that in order for the situation to be resolved – and it does need to be resolved – they have to sit down together and have some direct dialogue.”
Where’s the Gulf crisis headed?

However, UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said the measures taken were “entirely legal, justified and proportionate” and accused Qatar of grave violations.

“We hope to see a diplomatic solution at the regional level through genuine engagement from their side,” she told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain broke diplomatic relations with Qatar in early June largely over their allegations that it supports “terrorist” groups – a charge Qatar rejects.

They initially made 13 demands, which Qatar also dismissed.

Last week, the quartet urged Qatar to commit to six principles on combatting “extremism” and “terrorism” and negotiate a plan with specific measures to implement them.

Qatar’s ruler has reiterated his country’s willingness to fight “terrorism” and issued a decree revising the country’s counterterrorism laws.
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How will Qatar-Gulf crisis shape the region’s economy? http://doha.biz/2017/07/23/will-qatar-gulf-crisis-shape-regions-economy/ http://doha.biz/2017/07/23/will-qatar-gulf-crisis-shape-regions-economy/#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:33:38 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59503 In a now widely discredited 1990s-era theory of international relations, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman advanced the argument that no two countries with a McDonald’s would go to war with one another. The logic behind the so-called “Golden Arches Theory” suggested that states with economies that were strong and stable enough to support investment […]

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In a now widely discredited 1990s-era theory of international relations, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman advanced the argument that no two countries with a McDonald’s would go to war with one another.

The logic behind the so-called “Golden Arches Theory” suggested that states with economies that were strong and stable enough to support investment by multinational corporations like McDonald’s would be constrained from launching destructive conflicts against one another. The theory was roundly criticised and disproved with numerous examples, including wars between India and Pakistan, Israel and Lebanon, and Russia’s military interventions in neighbouring countries.

The ongoing crisis between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states has seemingly posed a new version of the same question: whether wealthy states with major economic disincentives could nevertheless engage in a debilitating conflict with each other. In looking at the Saudi-led group’s isolation of Qatar, a reinvigorated Friedman may even suggest that no two countries with a Four Seasons have ever gone to war.

But what such “end-of-history” style arguments have frequently missed is that the triumph of neoliberal economic expansion has not resulted in the capitalist peace that was promised. Rather, as has become apparent from the recent adventurism by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, states that enjoy considerable wealth can afford to endure untold economic losses in the pursuit of their ideological or political goals.

READ MORE: Can Qatar-Gulf rift be repaired?

For all of the discussions about Qatar “punching above its weight” by leveraging a small country’s strong economic position to influence regional politics, so too have its Gulf neighbours relied on vast oil revenues to impose a regional order at great cost to their economies.

After sponsoring the 2013 military coup that toppled the presidency of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, the Saudi, Emirati and Kuwaiti governments offered a staggering $23bn to keep the regime of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi afloat during its turbulent first 18 months. The $1.7bn in aid that the United States provides Egypt each year, which is so often invoked as a lever of influence on Egypt’s rulers, pales in comparison to the unprecedented level of assistance provided by Sisi’s Gulf sponsors. Predictably, Egypt was the first non-GCC country to join the boycott of Qatar.

Similarly, the first year of the disastrous war in Yemen cost $5.3bn, contributing to Saudi Arabia’s first budget deficit in decades in 2015 – not to mention the unspeakable devastation it wrought on the citizens of one of the most impoverished countries in the world.

Saudi and Emirati leaders have also devoted billions of dollars towards influencing the outcome of Tunisia’s political transition and backing local forces in the destructive civil conflicts in Libya and Syria.

UPFRONT: What’s next for Qatar and the GCC? (25:32)
When they withdrew their ambassadors and cut economic ties with Qatar last month in an attempt to rein in their neighbour’s foreign policy, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were not expected to allow the crisis to drag on. After all, Qatar conducts $9.5bn in trade annually with the three countries and provides the UAE with a third of its natural gas.

But this is not the first time that these governments have placed their political agenda above their economic interests. In responding to the global collapse in the price of oil in 2014, Saudi Arabia made the calculated decision not to cut its production levels, though that would mean diminished revenues.

Although the policy emerged largely out of an attempt to challenge the growing American shale oil sector, it also consciously targeted Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival for regional supremacy. Maintaining production levels despite falling prices was sure to harm Saudi state income in a country with a growing poverty rate, but because it also undercut Iran’s oil revenues, it was deemed necessary.

Estimates have put the collective losses in oil revenue by Gulf states at $890bn since 2015, leading Saudi Arabia and other countries to cut subsidies, introduce taxes and seek international loans for the first time in their recent history. Meanwhile, defence spending has risen sharply in recent years, even before accounting for the mammoth $110bn deal that US President Donald Trump coaxed from the Saudi regime during his May visit to Riyadh.

Perhaps these regimes simply look upon these policies as sunk costs in a battle to impose a singular vision for the future of the Arab region. Or maybe they are part of a long-term investment strategy expected to reap future rewards when neighbouring states come into the fold of Saudi hegemony. In either case, the longer that this crisis drags on, the less likely it is that the economic arrangements that have long defined relations within the GCC can be restored.

READ MORE: All the latest updates on Qatar-Gulf crisis

For its part, Qatar has already reoriented its trade towards Turkey and Iran, from whom it has begun to import goods that once came through Saudi Arabia.

Following US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s failed attempt at shuttle diplomacy, the blockade of Qatar is expected to continue indefinitely, resulting in something like a regional cold war. Having already deployed most of the economic weapons at its disposal, the Saudi/Emirati group has little else to do beyond the self-defeating act of expelling Qatar from the GCC, an organisation that was founded largely to consolidate an anti-Iranian regional alliance under Saudi leadership.

Since the mid-1990s, Qatar has proven itself to be the dissenting member of this council, as it promoted anti-establishment voices across the region and pursued a less hawkish stance towards Iran, with whom it shares one of the world’s largest natural gas fields. Qatar resumed development of the gas field last April after a 12-year freeze, a move that was undoubtedly viewed with some degree of suspicion on the part of neighbouring oil producers.

The gradual shift in global energy demand from oil to natural gas and the diverging foreign policies were bound to create a state of rivalry between Qatar and the rest of the GCC states. But the actions of Saudi Arabia and its allies have transformed that rift into a chasm and have done so in spectacularly short order.

The only possible upside to the rapid pace at which Qatar’s isolation has occurred is that the blockading states did not cultivate the atmosphere of hostility that normally precedes such escalation. While the requisite propaganda campaign has since commenced in earnest, the regimes have yet to convince their citizens about Qatar’s newfound status as primary enemy or the timing of their alarming escalation.

Judging by the harsh punitive measures awaiting Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini citizens for public displays of sympathy with Qatar – or even expressions of doubt as to the efficacy of the blockade – it would appear that these governments believe that large swaths of their populations do not support their actions.

That is likely because the maximalist demands that these states have put forward as a precondition to ending the stalemate, from suppressing opposition groups to shutting down media organisations, aim to cement the repressive political conditions that have long defined their rule. The high cost of the recent escalations has shown that they are willing to mortgage the future of their citizens to do so.
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Qatar win three silver medals at Asian meet http://doha.biz/2017/07/08/qatar-win-three-silver-medals-asian-meet/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 10:44:48 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59499 Qatar had to be content with three silver medals at the Asian Athletics Championships being held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India yesterday. Femi Seun Ogunode, Jamal Hairane and Yaser Salem all three had settle for silver after performing below their best in their respective events in rainy conditions. India’s Ajaoy Kumar Saroj (centre) […]

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Qatar had to be content with three silver medals at the Asian Athletics Championships being held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India yesterday. Femi Seun Ogunode, Jamal Hairane and Yaser Salem all three had settle for silver after performing below their best in their respective events in rainy conditions.

India’s Ajaoy Kumar Saroj (centre) won ahead of Qatar’s Asian Games bronze medallist Jamal Hairane (right) in the 1,500m. (AFP)

The biggest surprise came in the men’s 100m final. Hassan Taftian of Iran came from behind in the last half of the race to clinch gold by a hundredth of a second, ahead of defending Asian champion Ogunode. The Qatari sprinter clocked 10.26 seconds to Taftian’s 10.25. Yang Chun-Han of Chinese Taipei claimed bronze in a tightly contested field.
In the men’s 1,500m, Qatar’s Asian Games bronze medallist Jamal Hairane was quite convincingly beaten by India’s Ajay Kumar Saroj. The Indian runner clocked in an impressive 3:45.85 seconds and finished over a second ahead of Hairane, while Iran’s Moslem Niadoost rounded off the medals by taking bronze.
On Thursday, the first day of the event, Yaser Salem had picked silver after finishing second in the men’s 5000m. Salem was almost second behind winners G Lakshmanan of India, who came home in 14.54.48 seconds. Tariq Ahmed of Saudi Arabia was third.
Meanwhile, it was a superb day for Indian athletes as they bagged four gold medals yesterday. Heavy showers disrupted the proceedings of the evening session on Day Two, but it wasn’t enough to stop fans from cheering for the Indian athletes who responded in style on a day where 10 medal events were at stake.
India’s lead in the medal standings stayed put as they won four gold, two silver and two bronze medals to add to their tally on Day One. The hosts now have six gold, three silver and six bronze medals overall.
Nirmala Sheoran broke into the lead at the last turn and stayed there until the end under the unrelenting rain to take gold with a time of 52.01 seconds in the women’s 400m, while Quach Thi of Vietnam ended with the silver medal with 52.78. Jisna Mathew completed the medals by taking third place, while 2015 Asian Championships silver winner and Asian Games bronze medallist MR Poovamma finished just outside the medal standings.
National champion Muhammad Anas, who broke the national record in the men’s 400m two months ago, emerged in the lead at the final turn and held off stiff competition from compatriot Rajiv Arokia to make it an Indian one-two in pouring rain. Anas finished with an impressive time of 45.77 seconds and Arokia took silver with 46.14 seconds, just ahead of Oman’s Ahmed Mubarak who settled for bronze. Just like Poovamma in the women’s 400m, Amoj Jacob also finished fourth, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal.
In the women’s 1,500m, Chitra P U dominated the field after a spectacular flourish in the final lap and opened up a lead of more than a second over China’s Geng Min and Japan’s Ayako Jinnouchi, who got silver and bronze respectively.

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Indonesia police question Trump partner over alleged threats http://doha.biz/2017/07/08/indonesia-police-question-trump-partner-alleged-threats/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 10:42:08 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59496 Associated Press JAKARTA: Police questioned the Indonesian business partner of U.S. President Donald Trump at length on Friday over allegations he sent threatening text messages to a deputy attorney general. A smiling Hary Tanoesoedibjo arrived at the national police’s Criminal Investigation Agency in central Jakarta in the morning and left about eight hours later. He […]

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Associated Press

JAKARTA: Police questioned the Indonesian business partner of U.S. President Donald Trump at length on Friday over allegations he sent threatening text messages to a deputy attorney general.

A smiling Hary Tanoesoedibjo arrived at the national police’s Criminal Investigation Agency in central Jakarta in the morning and left about eight hours later.

He insisted on his innocence to a phalanx of waiting media.

“I explained that I didn’t have any intention to threaten,” he said. “The language in the SMS is commonly used.”

The 51-year-old billionaire, better known as Tanoe, is barred from leaving Indonesia for six months after police requested an extension of a travel ban of several weeks that was announced in June.

Tanoe is accused of sending threats by SMS early last year to Yulianto, a deputy attorney general for special crime who investigated a 2009 graft case related to Mobile-8 Telecom, a telecommunications company that Tanoe once owned.

Under Indonesian law, using technology to threaten people is punishable by up to four years in prison.

Tanoe, who was a guest at Trump’s inauguration, harbors political ambitions of his own and has said he might run for president in Indonesia’s 2019 election.

His conglomerate MNC, which has media, property and other businesses, is developing two luxury resorts in Indonesia that will be operated by the Trump Organization. One is part of a massive MNC development that includes a theme park on the doorstep of a national park in West Java that is home to endangered species.

“Let us hope this legal process will be carried out professionally, for the sake of good law enforcement,” Tanoe told reporters. “Because if I, Hary Tanoe, could be treated like this because of the SMS case, then all other people could also experience the same thing.”
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Qatar rejects Saudi-led group’s allegations http://doha.biz/2017/07/08/qatar-rejects-saudi-led-groups-allegations/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 10:39:19 +0000 http://doha.biz/?p=59493 Qatar has expressed regret over false claims in statements issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Cairo and Jeddah, describing the accusations by the anti-Doha quartet as defamation. Qatar’s state news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying on Friday that the claims by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt […]

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Qatar has expressed regret over false claims in statements issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Cairo and Jeddah, describing the accusations by the anti-Doha quartet as defamation.

Qatar’s state news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying on Friday that the claims by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt about Qatar’s interference in internal affairs of other countries and financing terrorism are baseless allegations.
Qatari farmers trying to find new ways to increase production

Qatar’s position of rejecting and condemning all forms of terrorism is consistent and known, the source said, adding:

“The State of Qatar is an active member committed to combating terrorism and its financing at regional and international levels. The international community attests to that.”

Qatar remains ready to “cooperate and review all claims that do not contradict the sovereignty of the State of Qatar,” the source continued.

The source also criticised the anti-Qatar group for accusing Doha of leaking the list of demands, saying the claims were baseless and could be refuted with evidence.

In a joint statement released late on Thursday, Saudi Arabia and its allies said that Qatar’s refusal of their list of 13 demands was proof of its links to terror groups and threatened to impose further sanctions on Doha over its refusal to bow to their ultimatum for ending the Gulf crisis.

READ MORE – All the latest updates about the Gulf crisis

“All political, economic and legal measures will be taken in the manner and at the time deemed appropriate to preserve the four countries’ rights, security and stability,” the statement said.

A similar document was issued on Wednesday after the foreign ministers of the quartet met in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Crisis ‘could intensify’

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.

On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions. The quartet now considers the demands “null and void”.

The US state department warned on Thursday that the Gulf crisis is at an impasse and could potentially drag on for weeks or even months.

The US believes the crisis could “possibly even intensify”, Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the state department, said.

Nauert did not specify what type of escalation the US fears, but she said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remains in close contact with the countries involved.
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