Qatar’s new emir in Saudi for first foreign trip

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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.

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