This week begins the 41st Gulf summit, which will once again bring together Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Although this session is chaired by Bahrain, the meeting will finally take place in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The main novelty of this summit will be the presence of the Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has not attended since 2017.
Qatar was subjected to a blockade from 2017 onwards as a result of accusations by several countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – of supporting terrorism and the organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since then relations of all kinds have been severed and attempts have been made to isolate the country in an attempt to bring about a shift in its foreign policy, which had progressively brought it closer to Turkey and Iran.
At the last Gulf summit the possibility of the assistance of the Qatari emir was assessed, but the assistant was finally the prime minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. Over the past month progress has been made in the talks between the Gulf countries to achieve reconciliation, and the presence of Amir al-Thani is the best example.
During the summit, in addition to the restoration of relations with Doha, of which Kuwait has been the main mediator, other important and topical issues will be discussed. These include the situation that has led to the pandemic and has put health systems in check. In addition to the strength of the health system, issues linked to the demographic imbalance and food security will be addressed.
Apart from the attendance of the Emir of Qatar, the summit will be marked by the loss of two of the leaders of the Gulf countries: the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, and the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah; the Bahraini Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman, will also be remembered.
However, the recently announced reduction of the Qatari diplomatic delegation in Riyadh has not gone down well. This, together with other aspects such as Doha's denunciation to the United Nations Security Council of violations of its airspace by Bahraini aircraft, has greatly dampened spirits regarding a possible full reconciliation despite Kuwait's efforts to build bridges.