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Monday, 19 June 2017

The Qatar crisis has global implications

For the past six years, there have been two Arab worlds. The world of violence and tragedy; and the world of glitz and globalisation. Syria, Iraq, Libya and, to a lesser extent, Egypt — have been engulfed by conflict. But Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have prospered as global hubs for travel, leisure, business and finance. The booming Gulf metropolises seemed untouched by the violence in the rest of the Middle East. They even profited indirectly, as safe havens in a region in turmoil.
But the wall between the two Arab worlds is breaking down. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai) have imposed a blockade on Qatar — claiming that the Qataris have been supporting jihadi movements across the region, and particularly in Syria and Libya. As a result, the illusion that the wealthy Gulf could remain uncontaminated by the wider conflicts in the Middle East has been shattered.
The obvious question is whether the dazzling rise of the Gulf states could be followed by an equally dazzling fall. If that were to happen, the implications would be global.