DOHA, Qatar – What could have started a thawing of the ice in relations between Qatar and its Arab neighbours, was an invitation extended by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz for the Qatari emir Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani to attend the 39th Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
One of the major issues likely to be discussed will be OPEC's limitations on oil production, aimed at stabilising oil prices.
Qatar last week surprisingly withdrew from OPEC, although the bulk of its commercial concern is now on liquefied gas.
Again, in a surprise, an official with the Qatar government has told the Anadolu news Agency late on Saturday, the emir will not be in Riyahd. Instead the government will be sending state ministers to the meeting.
The Qatar News Agency (QNA) said earlier in the week an official invitation had been sent to al-Thani by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz for the summit.
The invitation was handed in writing to Sultan Bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the Qatar State Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The six-nation bloc of oil-rich Arab Gulf states, the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC in short, comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
Qatar seemed to be enjoying good relations with its neighbours partucularly wiht Saudi Arabia as King Salman made a hstoric two day visit to Qatar in December 2016 which resulted in considerable excitement in the country.
However just 6 months later, in June last year, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain joined with Egypt to sever its ties with Qatar, later demanding a number of conditions it required to be fulfilled before diplomatic relations would be resumed. Doha rejected the demands leaving the tiny gas-rich country with an air, land and sea embargo which has now lasted eighteen months.