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Qatar’s Latest Move Against The GCC Blockade

Three months after the announcement of a Gulf blockade against Qatar, the country is accelerating trade growth via a special port located on its shores, according to reports emerging from the region.

The $7.4 billion Hamad port had been designed as a point of economic independence from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"This is a gateway to break the shackles imposed on Qatar," Doha’s transport minister Jassim bin Saif Al-Sulaiti said at the port opening held on Tuesday. "Nothing can stop us and our ambition," he added.

Doha dodged the worst logistical obstacles of the blockade by shifting its main export hub from the United Arab Emirates to Oman when the row first became public. Now, Qatar’s energy leaders are optimistic, feeling the ordeal has made the country’s logistics more robust.

In mid-July, diplomats from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates signaled that they no longer wanted Qatar to comply with 13 specific demands levied in June. Instead, they proposed six broad principles that they wanted Qatar to sign onto. The principles included denying safe havens and financing to terrorists, combating terrorism and extremism, stopping incitement of hatred and violence, and refraining from interfering in the internal politics of other countries, the New York Times reported. Later, the blockading nations said Doha would have to adhere to the previous 13 demands after all.

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So far, neither side has budged. Qatar will not bend to Saudi’s wishes and the KSA will not back down from its vision of a politically united group of Sunni monarchies against Shiite Iran.

Qatar’s wealth plays a large role in preventing it from surrendering to Riyadh’s will. The country’s central bank has $40 billion in cash reserves plus gold, while the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has $300 billion in reserves that it could liquidate, the Governor of Qatar Central Bank, Sheikh Abdulla Bin Saud Al-Thani, told CNBC in an interview in early July, one month into the blockade.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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