Reports stated that the Qatari leader is heading to Egypt on Friday, the first visit since the 2017 GCC crisis.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani travelled to Rwanda to take part in a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Amiri Diwan announced on Thursday, as reports claimed a stopover in Egypt is on the agenda.
The CHOGM’s official opening is taking place on Friday, which is scheduled to witness high-level meetings between heads of states under the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.’
The 54-member of the Commonwealth are set to discuss ways to balance trade growth and the preservation of natural resources. The event was initially scheduled to take place in June 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Doha and Rwanda established diplomatic ties in 2017 and have since cooperated in numerous fields.
In 2019, Qatar acquired a 60% stake in Rwanda’s new International Airport under a $1.3 billion agreement signed between Qatar Airways and the Rwandan government. Sheikh Tamim and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame witnessed the signing at the time in Kigali.
Qatar and Rwanda had started direct flights in March 2012.
Last year, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and Rwanda Finance Limited (RFL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost the two entities’ international development. The MoU would also enable Qatar and Rwanda’s to initiate sharing of best practices for the development of Islamic Finance.
In February this year, President Kagame met Sheikh Tamim in Qatar, where the two leaders discussed bilateral ties as well as regional developments.
The visit was followed by a MoU signed in March between the two countries, under which they agreed to increase their defence cooperation. The memorandum also aims at enhancing Qatar and Rwanda’s growing ties.
The Rwandan president was among the virtual participants at the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) this year, where he discussed his country’s business ties with various nations, including the Gulf state.
Amir in Egypt
Meanwhile, sources informed Al Araby TV that Sheikh Tamim will also be heading to Egypt on Friday in his first visit since the 2017 GCC crisis.
However, no official statement has emerged from authorities in Doha.
The diplomatic rift was triggered when Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain imposed an illegal air, land and sea embargo on Qatar over claims that it supported terrorism.
Qatar vehemently rejected those claims as baseless.
“They know, and everyone who visits them from the politicians knows, that their campaign against Qatar has nothing to do with terrorism,” Sheikh Tamim told the Opening of the 46th Session of the UN Advisory Council in 2017, months after the crisis began.
The blockade was lifted following the signing of the historic Al-Ula Declaration on 5 January 2021, with Qatar and Egypt resuming their diplomatic ties.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi then appointed a new ambassador to Doha in June last year, and a month later, Qatar appointed its first envoy to Cairo since the diplomatic rift.
Since then, both countries have witnessed growth in ties.
In March, Cairo and Doha inked investment deals totalling $5 billion during the visit of Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to the Egyptian capital.
However, despite the restoration of ties, Egypt has continued to imprison Al Jazeera journalists. Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced Doha-based Al Jazeera presenter Ahmed Taha to 15 years in prison in absentia.
Taha was sentenced over claims of “spreading false news” during an interview with Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a leading opposition figure and former presidential candidate in 2018.
There are four Al Jazeera journalists currently detained in Egypt.
The amir’s reported visit would also come weeks ahead of a high-profile GCC+3 summit in Riyadh, scheduled to take place on 16 July.
The meeting is expected to be attended by US President Joe Biden and the three non-GCC countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
“While in Saudi Arabia, the president will discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. These include support to the UN-mediated truce in Yemen,” said the White House said last week.