Promising statements have emerged from Manama over the last few weeks regarding reconciling ties with Doha following a long absence of meetings between officials.
The Qatari-Bahraini follow-up committee held its first meeting in Saudi Arabia on Monday as ties between both countries continue to warm following the 2017 regional crisis.
In a statement, the Qatari foreign ministry confirmed that the meeting took place at the Gulf Cooperation Council’s headquarters in Riyadh.
Qatar was represented by its foreign ministry’s secretary-general Dr. Ahmed Al Hammadi and Bahrain was represented by its foreign ministry’s undersecretary for political affairs Sheikh Abdulla Al Khalifa.
“The two sides affirmed, during the meeting, that this step embodies the directives of the two brotherly States’ leaderships, and their keenness to preserve the future and entity of the GCC, and to work on its gains,” the Qatari foreign ministry’s statement read.
Both sides discussed “necessary procedures and mechanisms” to end pending matters that have lingered since the region’s worst diplomatic rift.
“The two sides agreed to hold periodic and continuous meetings with the aim of achieving the desired goals,” the statement added.
The latest meeting comes a week after Qatar and Bahrain’s foreign ministers met for the first time since the GCC crisis.
During the meeting, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif Al Zayani agreed to “end the pending special files between them”.
The regional crisis erupted in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar over claims that it supports terrorism.
Doha dismissed those claims as baseless.
The dispute came to an end in 2021 with the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration, however Manama has yet to fully reconcile with Doha, with a notable absence of communications between both countries.
However, ties appeared to gradually thaw after a January meeting between Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Abu Dhabi.
Just days after the meeting, a phone call took place between Amir Tamim and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Al Khalifa where they discussed “outstanding issues”.
More promising statements have since started to emerge, with Bahrain saying direct flights between both countries are to resume “soon”.
“The issue of the agreement remains on the agenda and is under review,” Manama’s transportation minister Mohammed Al Kaabi confirmed last month.
At the time of the Al-Ula Declaration, Bahrain’s civil aviation authority announced it would open its airspace to Qatar, though direct flights have yet to resume.
Embassies of both countries also remain shut.
Last year, Manama abolished a visa requirement for Qataris, allowing them to enter Bahrain with ID cards.
While the update claimed to be for “all” GCC nationals, it failed to make mention of a U-turn on restrictions specifically targeting Qataris.
Prior to the latest entry policy change, all citizens of the bloc except Qatar were exempt from applying for a visa, per the Bahraini government’s portal—last updated in January last year.