Regional political leaders have seized on the occasion of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar to demonstrate renewed solidarity within the GCC. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud attended the opening game of the tournament, seated near Qatar’s Emir Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, and was pictured wearing a Qatar scarf. Two days later, Emir Tamim returned the favor, draping a Saudi flag around his neck during the kingdom’s upset victory over Argentina.

The attendance of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader as well as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi underlines the extent to which regional states are seeking to draw a line under the damaging Qatar embargo which lasted from June 2017 until January 2021 (MEES, 8 January 2021). That embargo was finally brought to an end at the 5 January 2021 GCC summit at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. Disagreements may still happen behind closed doors, but its hard to see a repeat of the embargo any time soon. Especially with Saudi Arabia and the UAE improving their relations with Qatar’s key ally Turkey. (CONTINUED - 831 WORDS)