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Robert Cusack

Qatar breaks food blockade with two new shipping routes from Oman

Mwani will ensure six ships dock in Doha's each week [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 June, 2017

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Qatar's national shipping company announced that six ships loaded with food would dock in Doha each week, after a regional diplomatic spat results in a blockade of the Gulf state.

The Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani) announced the opening of two new shipping services between Qatar and Oman on Sunday, after Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a blockade of the Gulf state last week.

Mwani announced that new services from Oman’s Hamad and Salalah ports will stop at Sohar Port in Oman six times a week.

It is understood that the new shipping lanes are to help break the ongoing blockade of Qatar by its regional neighbours, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

“In light of the recent developments in the region, Mwani Qatar and its partners have ensured the business continuity of its ports and shipping operations in and out of Qatar to mitigate the impact of any action that would affect the imports and exports to and from the country,” a spokesperson for Mwani said in a news conference on Sunday.

The first ship, run by Qatari shipping company, Milaha, arrived in Doha on Sunday, with a cargo of cold food supplies.

Oman has stayed neutral throughout the recent diplomatic spat between Qatar and other Arab countries.

Iran also sent five planes filled with food to Qatar on Sunday, Iran's national carrier said.

Some 90 tonnes of food was sent to Doha, Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi confirmed.

The long-standing tensions between Qatar and several Gulf states erupted on 5 June, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cut diplomatic dies with Doha.

Major shipping company, Maersk Line, also announced on Saturday it would redirect its marine traffic for Qatar via Oman.

Maersk’s announcement came after UAE’s dock operator, DP World, said it would not allow ships with onward travel plans for Qatar to unload cargo.

Doha has previously announced major infrastructure upgrade plans for Hamad port to allow large container ships to dock by 2020.

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