UAE and Qatar to Resume Flights, Shoring Up Gulf Reconciliation

Major airlines in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will restart cross-border flights next week for the first time in more than three years, as the UAE warmed to an agreement ending a diplomatic and trade rift that divided the energy-rich Gulf region.

Flydubai will operate twice-daily service to Doha from Jan. 26, while Etihad Airways plans to restart flights on Feb. 15. Qatar Airways plans twice-daily service to Dubai beginning on Jan. 27 and a daily flight to Abu Dhabi from the following day.

Sharjah-based Air Arabia PJSC earlier this month became the first UAE airline to resume flights to Doha.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed to fully restore ties with neighboring Qatar on Jan. 6 following a U.S. push for the countries to unite against Iran. The reconciliation came just two weeks before President Joe Biden took office after pledging to return the U.S. to the nuclear deal with Tehran.

“From Kuwait to Muscat, through Riyadh, Manama, Doha and Abu Dhabi, we open a new page full of hope and optimism,” the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, wrote in a tweet. “We aspire to a stable and prosperous Arab Gulf, and look to the future with confidence, solid will and confident determination.”

The comments were among the strongest coming from the UAE, which initially was cautious about the reconciliation, concerned it might not be sustainable in the absence of Qatari concessions. The boycotting nations had accused Qatar of meddling in their internal affairs, supporting Islamist groups and building ties with Iran, charges it denied.

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