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The New Arab

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE rulers 'skip GCC summit' with Qatar

Sheikh Tamim of Qatar [left] sits with the Kuwaiti Sheikh Al Sabah [Twitter/KUNA]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2017

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The rulers of the blockading nations all sent representatives to the summit meeting in Kuwait, while the Emir of Qatar attended in person.

The 38th summit meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) opened in controversy on Tuesday, as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain did not attend amid an on-going diplomatic split with Qatar.

Instead of the country's respective rulers, high-level ministers were dispatched to head their delegations at the meeting, also attended by Sheikh Tamim of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE both sent their foreign ministers and Bahrain sent its deputy prime minister in lieu of their ruling monarchs.

Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah sat for photos with each of the visiting dignitaries in turn, but it is not known if the Qatari delegation exchanged words with their counterparts from the Arab quartet of nations, currently blockading Qatar.

Kuwait's emir warned in October that the GCC could collapse if the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Doha and the Arab Quartet of blockading nations was not resolved.

"Contrary to our wishes and hopes, the Gulf crisis has the potential of escalating. Therefore, all of us must be fully aware of its potential consequences," Sabah said in Parliament.

Kuwait and Oman have both remained neutral in the dispute since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha on June 5.

Those three Gulf states, together with Egypt, accuse the gas-rich emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shia Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival. Qatar denies the allegations.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted. 

The list of demands included shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

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