It is customary at this time of year for thinktanks, political commentators and risk consultancies to deliver their forecasts for the year ahead – partly to fill what can be a quiet time for the news cycle. Not so this year with the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and post-US election wrangling still dominating the headlines throughout the holiday season. In the Middle East region, the first full week of 2021 has delivered a long-awaited reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia1, which culminated in the lifting of a regional travel and trade embargo as well as a visit by emir Sheikh Tamim to Riyadh last week.
Whilst the normalisation of relations between Qatar and its GCC neighbours is to be welcomed – not least by those regular travellers within the Gulf who for the last three years or more have had to travel to and from Doha via Muscat, adding hours to their journey – the political rapprochement gives us some indications of what we can expect from the region throughout the rest of 2021:
A new US president is coming – the incoming US administration will continue to prompt some realignment of regional relationships from Gulf states anxious to stay on good terms with the United States (as well as China)…..
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