UNITED FRONT
Gulf Business|February 2021
The resumption of ties with Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt will boost the regional economy with certain sectors set to witness a significant impact
Aarti Nagraj

For the Gulf region, the year 2021 started on a positive note.

On January 5, during the 41st GCC Summit held at Saudi Arabia’s ancient city of AlUla, the kingdom – along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – signed an agreement to restore ties with Qatar, ending the dispute within the region. The four countries had sealed all land, sea and air borders with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar denied the allegations.

The signing of the AlUla Declaration to restore relations “will be a strong and important foundation to the future of the region and its stability” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters at the time.

The move was hailed as a significant step for the region. The restoration of ties between Qatar and the four Arab countries will “improve political and economic cooperation” within the GCC region, S&P Global Ratings said in a note. “We expect that the resolution of the boycott will support improvement in the region’s broader business and investment environment,” it said.

During the embargo against Qatar, businesses operating throughout the Gulf faced disruptions to supply routes, transportation, recruitment, and scheduling obligations, law firm Wasel and Wasel’s Susan Bastress and Mahmoud Abuwasel said in a note.

“Parties have sought to accommodate the impacts of these disruptions through contractual provisions aimed at providing relief to harmed parties. These “workaround” provisions have resulted in increased costs to business operations, development projects, and ultimately the public at large, throughout the Gulf,” they wrote.

With the agreement now in place, businesses should consider reviewing current contract obligations and how they would be affected by the elimination of embargo related disruptions.

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