On Monday, Qatar found itself cut off from its neighbors. Bahrain was the first to break diplomatic ties with the country, followed by Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya followed suit. This cutting of diplomatic ties is a result of an escalating crisis, which according to Bloomberg, started with Qatar’s relationship with Iran and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement.
“All relations with the state of Qatar have now been severed,” reads a statement from the UAE government’s news agency, WAM. The statement also included an advisory for Qatari diplomats who were given 48 hours to leave the UAE.
UAE’s flag carrier, Etihad Airlines (based in Abu Dhabi), and top airlines Emirates (based in Dubai) are stopping all flights to and from Qatar following the announcement of severed diplomatic relations.
In May, reports surfaced about a speech given by the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. In the speech, he allegedly criticized America, offered support for Iran and reaffirmed support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the United States views Hamas as a terrorist organization, and this places Qatar at odds with the US, as well as its neighbors in the Middle East.
The UAE, in particular, has earned a reputation for itself as one of the United States’ most reliable Arab partners. According to the BBC, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s intervention in Yemen in 2015 has forged a newfound desire for these two countries to lead on matters of regional security.
However, with over 9 million people living in the UAE, a majority of which are expats, residents can’t help but wonder what the Qatar crisis might mean for them. What’s On UAE provides the following info regarding flight situations to and from Qatar.
- Etihad Airways has canceled all flights effective June 6. The last flight from Abu Dhabi to Qatar will be at 2:45 am on June 6.
- Flydubai will cease all flights to and from Doha starting June 6.
- AirArabia canceled all flights from Sharjah to Doha, effective June 6.
- Emirates suspended all flights to and from Qatar starting the morning of June 6.
According to Emirates Airlines, the last flight (EK847) from Dubai to Doha will depart at 2:30 a.m. on June 6. Meanwhile, the last flight (EK848) from Doha to Dubai will depart at 3:50 a.m. on June 6. All other customers who have booked flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options.
On the other hand, Qatar Airways announced that it would cease all flights to and from Saudi Arabia. As of this writing, there is no official announcement regarding Qatar Airways flights to and from the UAE. However, it should be noted that the UAE’s official news agency has announced a “closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours [from Monday morning, June 5] and a banning of all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE, from crossing, entering or leaving the UAE territories.”
Based on this announcement, Qatar Airways might be banned from flying in and out of the UAE. The problem is that some UAE residents regularly fly to and from Doha for work. So it would be useful to note that Kuwait and Oman have not closed their airspace yet, and would likely continue their flights to Doha. The downside is that it will not be a hassle-free and will be a more expensive trip to the isolated nation.
Another blow for UAE residents is the fact that many fly Qatar Airways to destinations as far as London in Europe and Kuala Lumpur in Asia. If Qatar Airways were banned from flying from the UAE, residents would do well to book their flights using alternative airlines. Moreover, with the closure of the Saudi and UAE airspace, Qatar Airways will be forced to take a north route via Iran, no matter the final destination, making some flights longer than it should be.
Furthermore, UAE nationals are banned from traveling to, transiting, or staying in Qatar and its territories. It should be noted, however, that this advisory doesn’t apply to UAE residents; they are still free to travel to Qatar, provided they fly there not directly from the UAE.
[Featured Image by Jan Kruger/Getty Images]