Boycotted Qatar Won't Budge From `Effective' Policies, Emir Says

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar’s ruler said his country will carry on with its economic and foreign policies, accusing a Saudi-led alliance of seeking to prolong the worst diplomatic crisis in the history of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, delivering an annual speech before the national assembly, known as the Shoura Council, said Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt don’t “want to reach a solution” to the dispute. The four countries severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing extremist groups, a charge Doha has repeatedly denied. Saudi Arabia closed Qatar’s only land border.

“I don’t need to remind you of the number of countries thriving only on sea and air transport and without land crossings,” the emir told a packed audience of government officials. “Qatar’s society knows how to live, thrive and develop whether the blockade was long or short.”

The Saudi-led bloc gave the gas-rich country a list of 13 demands to resolve the crisis, including shutting down Al Jazeera television, refraining from backing Islamist groups and scaling back ties with Shiite-ruled Iran. Qatari officials said the demands were designed to be rejected.

Mediation efforts by Kuwait and the U.S. have failed to resolve the crisis.

Sheikh Tamim said Qatar has absorbed the shocks of the boycott and is moving to speed up economic and legal reforms that would help the economy grow, he said. He outlined six initiatives that would streamline investment, provide food security, upgrade oil and gas infrastructure as well as support the country’s airline and ports.

Qatar’s government is also preparing for long-promised elections to the Shoura Council. The consultative body is currently appointed by decree and has no legislative or regulatory authority. A law governing the elections will be presented for discussion next year, Sheikh Tamim said. Last week, 28 members, including four women, were appointed to the council.

“The blockading countries want to distract us in battlefronts they open against Qatar everywhere, so that our internal and external policies are disrupted,” he said. “But that won’t happen. We will continue to pursue our positive and effective foreign policy and meet our humanitarian and international obligations.”

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