A series of Arab countries have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar today. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen have accused Qatar of backing several terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), which the country has denied. Not only will it greatly impact the lives of Qatari residents in the countries above, and their nationals living in Qatar, it will also affect tourists looking to visit the gulf state.
How Will This Affect Flights?
Some major airlines, such as Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, have cancelled all flights from the United Arab Emirates to Qatar, starting Tuesday morning. The same applies to flights to the UAE from the neighbouring country. Egyptair and Gulf Air are both expected to follow suit.
Therefore, anyone with flights booked to, from or connecting through Qatar from one of these countries may face a bit of trouble. Qatar Airways has not stated if it will be taking a similar approach to UAE flights, but has already cancelled all its flights to Saudi Arabia, offering passengers alternatives or even full refunds on their tickets.
As of now, the only way for people to get to Qatar from one of these Arab countries would be by connecting through a third country, such as Oman or Iran, who have not yet taken a stance on the crisis.
Another major change is that flights connecting Qatar to other countries are no longer permitted to fly over the airspace of the five countries who initiated this action. This will greatly affect flight times, as well as fuel prices. A flight to Europe that would otherwise take around six hours may now take up to twice as long.
Considering that much of the country’s growth has been because of its popular airline Qatar Airways, this is highly worrisome for Qatar’s economy. Some European airlines such as British Airways will continue to offer their normal flight schedules to Doha.
Other Crucial Changes
Tensions are high as Qatar shares a border with Saudi Arabia, and is geographically very close to the UAE and Bahrain. The Saudi border has now been closed, which is causing more distress than one would expect. It is believed that over a third of Qatar’s food supplies arrives overland across that very border.
People in Doha rushed to supermarkets this Monday to stock up on supplies, as they are afraid that food will run out in the following days. Prices are likely to increase, for residents and visitors alike.
Qatari citizens in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have been given 14 days to leave. The same rule applies to residents from these countries who are currently in Qatar.
The situation is fluid and for those who still have a choice in the matter, it would be wise to wait and watch the news before buying a ticket to or via Qatar.