Reader Question: What is the Gulf Blockade?

We have some very perceptive readers on this blog and I wanted to explain a concept that I have received a few emails about.

Over the last few days I have been publishing an extended trip report where I flew to Paris, Sweden, Doha, and Muscat.

In my review of the Al Safwa First Class Lounge in Doha, I made reference to the “Gulf Blockade.” And in my review of my flight to Muscat, I posted the photo below.

I received several emails that, essentially, asked the same question…
– “Can you explain the Gulf Blockade?”
– “Why did your flight not fly in a straight line to Muscat? Wouldn’t it have been faster?”

THE GULF BLOCKADE

In June 2017, several countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing them of destabilizing the region by backing militant groups including the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda. Qatar denied the accusations, but that did not stop the accusations.

HOW DID THIS START?

Initially, Saudi Arabia put out a statement in which they accused Qatar of supporting “Iranian-backed terrorist groups” which started the ball rolling for Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, the Maldives, Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen to all cut ties with Qatar.

LONG(ER) FLIGHTS

I trust this situation is very complicated. But given this is a travel blog (and not a political blog), I’m going to stick to what I know…travel! And this has had a big impact on many airlines.

In fact, the BBC reported:

  • The UAE gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country
  • Airlines from many of the affected countries, cancelled flights to and from the Qatari capital of Doha and;
  • The Gulf allies closed their airspace to Qatar Airways

In other words, all flights on Air Arabia, Emirates, EgyptAir, Etihad, Flydubai, Gulf Air, Saudia, etc., flying to Qatar were cancelled. Additionally, Qatar Airways no longer had access to Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc. airspace.

Thus, when a flight leaves from Qatar enroute to Oman, it has to avoid UAE airspace and fly around UAE.

FINAL STAMP

If you’ve read my recents reviews (HERE AND HERE), you’ll see that I am a big fan of Qatar Airways and I don’t think I’m in the minority here…

Again, I am not familiar with the intricacies of Middle-Eastern politics but I would’ve never thought the Gulf Blockade would’ve lasted this long (2.5 years).

I spent several days in Qatar and it appeared it was ‘business as usual’ but I can’t imagine the impact that has had on, both, the country and Qatar Airways.

Qatar is a tiny and wealthy nation. They have invested A LOT of money in their award-winning airline, beautiful airport, and have won the right to host major global sporting events (e.g. 2022 FIFA World Cup), but I’m sure elimination of routes and rerouting other flights in order to avoid certain airspace has been very costly.

I hope this provides a little foundation for this complicated situation.

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