Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Etihad, Emirates suspend flights to Qatar

Etihad, Emirates suspend flights to Qatar

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies may have felt emboldened by Trump's visit, which saw the new president clearly align USA interests with Riyadh and lash out at Iran.

Oil prices fell on June 5 on concerns a diplomatic rift among some of the Arab world's major energy producers could weaken a global deal on output cuts, while sterling shrugged off a deadly attack in London and focused on this week's United Kingdom election. Qatar is a small peninsula jutting out from the eastern seaboard of the Arabian Peninsula.

The unprecedented measures against Doha include ordering Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days and banning citizens of the three Gulf states from travelling to Qatar.

The Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen said it had expelled Qatar from the group.

In a statement on state news agency SPA, oil giant Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups and spreading their violent ideology, in an apparent reference to Qatar's influential state-owned satellite channel al Jazeera.

"Airspace will be impacted?by flights being re-routed, especially for Qatar Airways who will no longer be allowed to use the expansive airspace of Saudi Arabia on flights to Europe and North America", he said.

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Trump and other USA officials participated in a traditional sword dance during the trip in which he called on Muslim countries to stand united against religious extremists and singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.

In Sydney, Tillerson said he didn't believe the diplomatic crisis would affect the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Some of the Middle East's biggest airlines are suspending flights to Qatar as a major diplomatic crisis roils the region.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries traditionally account for only about 5 to 10 per cent of trading on the Qatari stock market, according to exchange data, suggesting even a total pull-out would not sink the market.

Stock markets in Dubai and several other Gulf centres fell on Monday - although not by almost as much as Qatar - in a sign that investors around the region were anxious.

Budget carrier FlyDubai also canceled service to Qatar effective June 6, as did Bahrain national carrier Gulf Air, Air Arabia and Saudia Airlines. It has for years presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region's many disputes.

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said they were cutting air, sea and land transport links with Qatar, while Egypt said it was closing its air space and sea ports to all Qatari transport.

Cairo-based bankers said on Monday that some Egyptian banks had halted dealings with Qatari banks.

It added that, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, it was committed to its charter, respected the sovereignty of other states and did not interfere in their affairs.

The diplomatic crisis sweeping the Gulf could invigorate a campaign by critics of Qatar to strip Doha of the 2022 World Cup, experts said Monday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a currency basket, rose 0.2 percent, having hit its lowest since November 9 after Friday's report showing the US economy added fewer jobs than expected last month.

This time, Saudi Arabia has promised to "begin legal procedures for immediate understandings with brotherly and friendly countries and worldwide companies to apply the same procedures as soon as possible".

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Gulf states have for years accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist organisation.

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