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This handout picture provided by the UAE Ministry Of Presidential Affairs shows Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (R) meeting with Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Doha, on December 5, 2022. – The United Arab Emirates’ president began his first visit to Qatar since the end of a nearly four-year regional blockade that put ties in the deep freeze. (Photo by Hamad AL-KAABI / UAE’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / UAE’S MINISTRY OF PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===

The United Arab Emirates’ president on Monday began his first visit to Qatar since the end of a nearly four-year regional blockade that put ties in the deep freeze. 

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was greeted by Qatar’s emir at the airport, officials said, in a trip that coincides with the ongoing football World Cup in Qatar.

It is the first state visit since January 2021, when a Saudi-led boycott of the gas-rich peninsula that started in June 2017 finally came to an end.

The visit, on the invitation of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, “builds on the existing brotherly relations between the two nations and their people”, the UAE’s official WAM news agency said.

The first World Cup on Arab soil is taking place less than two years after Saudi Arabia and its allies the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties, claiming Qatar supported extremists and was too close to Iran — allegations that Doha denied.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has already met the emir during the World Cup where he was pictured wearing a Qatar football scarf.

Although this is the UAE president’s first visit since the blockade, ties have been gradually warming. 

In May, the emir flew to Abu Dhabi for the funeral of Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohamed’s half-brother and predecessor as president.

bur/th/fz

© Agence France-Presse

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