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In this May 5, 2018 photo, a giant image of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, adorns a tower in Doha, Qatar. At a time when the U.S. hopes to exert maximum pressure on Iran, a regional bloc created by Gulf Arab countries to counter Tehran looks increasingly more divided ahead of the anniversary of the diplomatic crisis in Qatar. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) — Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A year into boycott, few signs of crisis in Qatar

Construction is still underway at some skyscrapers, and at the stadiums being built ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Published Jun 04, 2018 11:37pm

Across the glittering high-rise towers of Qatar, the face of the country's ruler still seems to be everywhere a year after Arab nations imposed a boycott on his tiny, gas-rich country.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and cut air, ground and sea links to Qatar over its alleged support of terrorist groups and its warm relations with Iran. But Qatar's massive natural gas reserves and close ties with other countries in the region have allowed it to weather the crisis, and daily life has gone on largely unchanged.

There are signs of the boycott here and there grocery stores once filled with dairy products from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has shut down Qatar's only land border, now stock items from Turkey and Iran. Air routes have been disrupted, with the country's flagship Qatar Airways forced to reroute flights through Oman or over Iranian airspace.

Construction is still underway at some skyscrapers, and at the stadiums being built ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The country's massive shopping malls are doing brisk business, particularly as people seek air-conditioned refuge from the sweltering summer heat, with temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.

Qatari men and others smoke water-pipes at the Waqif Souq in Doha, Qatar. —AP
Qatari men and others smoke water-pipes at the Waqif Souq in Doha, Qatar. —AP

People leave the Qatar National Library building designed by Dutch architecture firm OMA and has opened recently in Doha, Qatar. —AP
People leave the Qatar National Library building designed by Dutch architecture firm OMA and has opened recently in Doha, Qatar. —AP

Portraits of Qatar's ruling emir, 38-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, are plastered across public places, and he remains a symbol of Qatar's independence and defiance of the boycott. President Donald Trump, who at times has appeared to side with the boycotting nations, welcomed the emir to the White House in April.

A poster of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is displayed on the door of a jewelry store in the Waqif Souq. —AP
A poster of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is displayed on the door of a jewelry store in the Waqif Souq. —AP

Qatar strongly denies supporting terrorism, but it backs the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups outlawed as terrorists by the boycotting nations. It has also long maintained warm ties with Saudi Arabia's archrival Iran, with which it shares a large underwater gas field.

Qatari police officers in national dress, wearing crisscrossing bandoliers, patrol some areas of Doha on horseback, a nod to a time before Qatar's vast natural gas wealth when rifle-carrying cavalry defended the emirate. Today, Qatar has a modern military and hosts some 10,000 American forces at the vast al-Udeid Air Base. So far though, this dispute has only been one of words.

A couple take a weekend walk with their new born baby along the waterfront, in Doha, Qatar. —AP
A couple take a weekend walk with their new born baby along the waterfront, in Doha, Qatar. —AP