Qatar–United Arab Emirates relations

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Qatar–United Arab Emirates relations
Map indicating locations of Qatar and United Arab Emirates


United Arab Emirates

Qatar–United Arab Emirates relations are the relations between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has an embassy in Doha while Qatar maintains an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.

Both countries share a naval border and are part of the Arabic-speaking Persian Gulf region. They are both members of the GCC.[1]

On 5 June 2017, UAE has cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, giving the country's diplomats to leave the country in 48 hours.[2]

Diplomatic relations[edit]

In 1995, after Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani deposed his father to become emir of Qatar, UAE granted asylum to the deposed Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani in a quarters in Abu Dhabi. Qatar accused UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, of plotting against the new emir, to which the accused countries denied all charges. Several hundred arrests were made in relation to the incident throughout the next two years, and in February 1996, the Qatar Amiri Guard was mobilized.[3]

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, withdrew their ambassador from Qatar in March 2014 due to alleged failiure by Qatar to abide by an agreement not to interfere in the politics of these countries.[4] The main reason for the dispute was UAE's support for the political regime in Egypt led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Egypt’s military elite which contrasted Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.[5] In April 2014, Dubai Police Force chief Dhahi Khalfan stated that “Qatar should not be ‘a safe haven’ to the so-called ‘Muslim’ Brotherhood”, and further asserted that the UAE should 'reclaim' Qatar.[6]

The government of Qatar continued to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Qatar's emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani denounced el-Sisi's election as president in June 2014 as a ‘military coup’.[5] The ambassadors returned to their posts in June.[7]

In September 2014, it was reported that the Emirati government invested $3 mn into a lobbying campaign against Qatar, primarily as a response to Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.[8] The campaign was aimed at influencing American journalists to publish critical articles of Qatar's alleged funding of Islamist groups.[9] Qatar has also been accused of influencing news outlets to report unfavorably on the UAE.[10]

It was claimed by journalist Brian Whitaker that the UAE used Global Network for Rights and Development, an NGO to which it has ties, as a political tool. Whitaker claimed that the organization showed favoritism in its 2014 human rights index by ranking UAE at 14 and Qatar at 97. The organization has also taken an opposing stance towards Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup over human rights concerns. Two of the organization's employees were arrested by Qatari authorities in 2014 while they were investigating the living standards of foreign laborers.[11]

2017–18 Qatar diplomatic crisis[edit]

On 4 June 2017, the UAE cut their ties with Qatar, accusing them of supporting terrorism. However, it's unknown if Qatar is still in the GCC. Islam Hassan argues "there has been always competition between al-Nahyans of Abu Dhabi and al-Thanis of Qatar. This competition goes back to the 1800s. The Arab uprisings ushered a new chapter in the Qatari-Emirati competition. The competition led to the Emiratis playing a major role in the withdrawal of ambassadors from Qatar in 2014. At the beginning of the current diplomatic crisis, particularly after the hacking saga, UAE was trying to maintain the problem. Yet, Aljazeera's publishing of Yousuf al-Otaiba's leaked emails got the UAE on board with Saudi Arabia."[12][13]

In two separate incidents on 21 December, 2017, and 3 January, 2018, the UAE was accused by Qatar's government of infringing on its airspace with fighter jets. As a result, two complaints were filed to the UN by Qatar's representative Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani.[14] For their part, the UAE rebuked the allegations, claiming that it had never impeached on Qatar's airspace with warplanes.[15]

On 14 January, Qatari sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, who had been touted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a potential replacement for Qatar's current emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, reportedly released a video in which he claimed he was being detained in the UAE by Emirati authorities after being invited to the country by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Emirati authorities denied that he was being forcefully held.[16]

Another air traffic-related incident occurred on 15 January, 2018, when the UAE accused Qatar of 'intercepting' two civilian airliners en route to Bahrain with fighter jets.[17] This was quickly denied by Qatari government officials.[18]

Diplomatic visits[edit]

In 2008, the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited Doha where he met Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. The two leaders set up a joint investment fund.[19]


The second Libyan Civil War has been described as a proxy conflict between the two countries, with the UAE backing the secular Tobruk government and Qatar backing the Islamist National Salvation Government.[20][21][22]


  1. ^ "Profile: Gulf Co-operation Council". BBC. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Reuters. "Saudi Arabia cuts ties to Qatar, cites 'terrorism'". Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "Qatar's history of turbulent relations with UAE". Gulf News. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Saad Abedine (5 March 2014). "Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain withdraw envoys from Qatar". CNN. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Islam Hassan (31 March 2015). "GCC's 2014 Crisis: Causes, Issues and Solutions". Al Jazeera Research Center. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Daniel Greenfield (5 April 2014). "Dubai Police Chief Declares Qatar Part of UAE". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Withdrawn Gulf ambassadors to return to Doha within days". Middle East Monitor. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Julian Pecquet (3 August 2015). "Qatar crawls in from the cold". Al Monitor. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Lesley Walker (28 September 2014). "Qatar, UAE under fire for PR tactics over 2022 and Islamist backing". Doha News. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Chris Mondloch (3 April 2015). "The UAE Campaign Against Islamist Extremism Is a Royal Pain For Qatar". VICE News. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  11. ^ James Dorsey (11 February 2015). "UAE Embarks on Global Campaign to Market Its Brand of Autocracy". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "Qatar Pursues an Independent Foreign Policy that Clashes with the Saudi's Strategic Interests" (PDF). Eurasia Diary. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "Saudi Diplomatic Offensive on Qatar to Barely Impact Anti-Terror Fight in Region". Sputnik International. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "Qatar files UN complaints as 'UAE jets breach airspace'". Al Jazeera. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  15. ^ "UAE denies violation of Qatari airspace". Middle East Monitor. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  16. ^ "Mystery over 'detained' Qatari sheikh in UAE". 15 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  17. ^ "Qatar denies intercepting Emirati civilian aircraft". The Washington Post. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "Qatar denies intercepting Emirati civilian aircraft". Al Jazeera. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  19. ^ "UAE and Qatar enhance relations". Gulf News. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  20. ^ "How the Gulf Arab Rivalry Tore Libya Apart". The National Interest. December 11, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Qatar, the UAE and the Libya connection". Al-Jazeera. 12 June 2017. 
  22. ^ "Is Libya a proxy war?". Washington Post. October 24, 2014.