Terrorism and Tourism: The new enemy is Qatar with GCC tourism in danger
If you are booked on Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, or Emirates Airlines, you may be in for a bad surprise this Monday morning. Dangerous clouds are moving in for Tourism in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the United Arab Emirates. Tourism to Qatar has a new “too hot” dimension.
The situation in the Gulf region moved from stable to dangerous overnight. Citizens in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt woke up facing a new burning flame and a common enemy. The enemy is Qatar.
Tourists, citizens, and residents traveling to member nation belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council had a freedom of movement – until today. A common visa for tourists is valid in GCC member countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There is no confirmation yet, but this may have changed today. It sure changed for any Qatar citizen wanting to visit another GCC country.
It can be compared to have Schengen countries in Europe all the sudden closing their borders to each other. The situation is dangerous, and the region may have become unstable overnight.
This may also be a big blow for the three largest airline companies in the world Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. All three carriers are in GCC member countries and even though they compete, there is a lot of common synergies. All three carriers are reaching out to each others market to fill their planes, mostly with passengers from third countries. Cutting air links overnight between Qatar and the rest of the GCC world is “disaster” written in the sky. Tourism has been booming in Dubai, but also in Qatar. Visiting both countries is now becoming impossible overnight.
The days’ tourists and residents traveled freely between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Countries are turning into history as of tomorrow.
Turkey has pledged to help Qatar militarily if it would be threatened by external entities. The United States has a very large military base in Qatar, over 10,000 troops.
In October 2016 the U.S. Department of the Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel L. Glaser visited Qatar and met with senior State of Qatar leaders. Glaser discussed the Government of Qatar’s recent positive efforts to counter terrorist financing with Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser. The United States Government enjoys a close and ongoing relationship with the Government of Qatar in combatting terrorist financing and supports Qatar’s efforts to deny terrorist financiers access to its financial system. The United States appreciates Qatar’s role as a coalition partner in the fight against ISIL.
Apparently, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GGC is not sharing this sentiment anymore.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates blocked Qatari websites and broadcasters. Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani later said the country was being targeted in a “hostile media campaign, which we will confront.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on Monday morning, following a spat in a diplomatic rift in the Gulf region in recent weeks.
This is probably the most serious escalation – most of Qatar’s imports come via Saudi Arabia. eTN reached out to airline and tourism professionals in all GCC countries. Only Etihad Airways responded with an official statement.
Here is what is happening:
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Closing of borders