Monday, 12 June 2017

QATAR: Qatar Opens Channels With Oman Ports Circumventing UAE Ports

Qatar Monday announced it had launched direct shipping services to ports in Oman, a move that bypasses a Gulf "blockade" on a country largely dependent on food imports.

Qatar's port authority announced the launch of two new services from Hamad Port to Oman's Sohar and Salalah ports, circumventing the need for cargo to stop in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates.

The UAE had for decades served as a central stopping point in cargo shipments.

Qatar's Hamad Port is 420 nautical miles from Sohar Port and 1,131 nautical miles from Salalah.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are among several countries which last week announced the suspension of all ties to Qatar over what they say is the state's support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Shiite Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

The emirate is the world's largest producer and exporter of liquified natural gas, but the wealthy emirate also relies heavily on imports for food staples and raw materials.

Analysts estimate that at least 40 percent of all of Qatar's food supplies are transported across its land border with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh last week closed the Qatari peninsula's only land border, threatening the import of both fresh food and raw materials needed to complete a $200-billion infrastructure project for the controversial 2022 football World Cup.

Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran on Sunday announced it had sent five planes carrying produce to Qatar. Three ships carrying 350 tonnes of food are also set to leave Iran for the emirate.

Turkey is also tipped to play a major role in supplying Qatar with food.

Kuwait, which is now leading mediation efforts, and Oman are the only Gulf Cooperation Council members which did not take measures against Qatar in the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.