In a positive change in the Middle East, Qatar was invited to Arab League Summit and The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meetings held in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Through the summits, Saudi Arabia has sought to project a unified Arab front against Iran.
Despite facing bitter differences with neighbouring Qatar, King Salman invited Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose country is home to the largest US military base in the region, to the Mecca summit.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani attended the meeting instead, the highest Qatari official to visit the kingdom since Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the gas-rich nation in June 2017.
Qatar was represented at Friday’s meetings by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani, Doha’s highest-ranking official to visit the kingdom since the start of a two-year-old Saudi-led boycott.
Appearing tense, the Qatari official shook hands with the Saudi king but there was no indication of a thaw.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have enforced the economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar since June 2017, including bans on shipping, trade, direct flights, overflight and land crossings.
The alliance accuses Doha of supporting Islamist movements and backing Iran — claims Qatar rejects.
The summits coincide with the last few days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, when Makkah & Medina are in-fluxed with thousands of pilgrims.
The meetings take place at night, as Muslims break their day-long fasting at sunset and then go into several hours of special prayers known as Taraweeh.
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