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UAE ruler visits Qatar for first time since leading blockade

Mohammed bin Zayed makes surprise visit to Qatar after leading a regional boycott of the country for several years
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) meets with President of the UAE Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Doha on December 5, 2022 (Reuters)

The leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday made a surprise trip to Qatar at the invitation of ruling emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. 

The visit comes as Qatar hosts the football World Cup, which has seen regional leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, converge on the country in a bid to overcome tensions. 

The Qatari emir had also facilitated the first meeting between Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the two leaders fell out in 2013 following the military coup in Egypt. 

Mohammed bin Zayed was accompanied by the Emirati national security adviser, Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister and minister of the presidential court, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, as well as several other government officials. 

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His visit is particularly significant because he is widely believed to have been the principal architect of the regional boycott of Qatar over its ties with rival Iran and Turkey and its support for Islamist groups.

Early last year, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE ended an almost four-year embargo, but ties between Abu Dhabi and Doha have not warmed at the same pace as they have with Riyadh and Cairo, who re-established diplomatic ties with Doha.

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