Speculation that Qatar’s emir might attend this week’s GCC summit in Riyadh (MEES, 6 December) ultimately proved unfounded, with the Qatari ruler opting instead to visit Rwanda. Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani attended instead, still marking a considerable step up from Qatar’s 2018 delegate – the minister of state for foreign affairs. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman gave the Qatari PM a notably warm welcome, lending succour to belief that two and a half years into the embargo, relations are beginning to thaw. Bahrain and Abu Dhabi appear to retain a more frosty demeanour to Qatar however, and Bahrain is to host the 2020 summit. Improvements are welcome, but it is a long road yet, and a return to the pre-2017 normality may ultimately never be achieved.