Qatar’s new emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was to visit Saudi Arabia on Friday on his first foreign foray since acceding to the throne in June, state news agency SPA said.
Sheikh Tamim “will meet King Abdullah and perform the omra” pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, the agency said.
The Saudi monarch is also currently in Mecca where he will celebrate the Eid feast marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month, SPA said.
The 33-year-old Sheikh Tamim came to power on June 25 following the abdication of his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, an unprecedented event in the Arab world.
Sheikh Tamim has good relations with Saudi Arabia, despite Doha and Riyadh having had fall-outs in the past during his own father’s reign.
Ties have also been strained in the wake of the Arab Spring, notably in Syria and more recently in Egypt, as each Gulf nation seeks to extend its regional influence.
The two countries have different approaches towards political Islam.
Qatar staunchly backs the Muslim Brotherhood, while Saudi Arabia promotes more strict Salafist groups on issues of dogma such as women wearing the veil and the sexes not mixing.
Both states are members of the six-nation regional Gulf Cooperation Council, which also groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter, while Qatar holds the world’s third-largest gas reserves and produces roughly 77 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually, making it the world’s largest supplier.
Qatar emir to change style but keep father’s policyQatar’s young new emir is likely to stay the course on most of his father’s policies while opting for a less assertive approach on ... Perspective
Qatar committed to cooperating with GCC states, emir saysQatar’s new Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani made his first address to the nation on Wednesday ensuring that his country is committed in ... Middle East
Qatar’s new emir Sheikh Tamim: The Gulf’s youngest rulerThe emir of Qatar has transferred power to his son, who is set to become the youngest sovereign of any of the Gulf Arab monarchies. Former Emir Sheikh ... Middle East