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Posted On: 16 August 2017 12:00 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:17 pm

Dispatches from Dubai: I stand with Qatar but I'm not allowed to say it

ILQ Staff
ILQ Staff
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By Amelia Miller

Photo credits: iStock by Getty Images

It was the early hours of June 5, 2017, and my family and I were at the boarding gate at Hamad International Airport bound for Dubai after yet another amazing weekend in Doha. We glanced up at the TV which was showing the news, and the headline was about the hacked emails of UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al-Otaiba. Although interested, we didn't think much of it and boarded our flight home.

At the time, we didn't realize we were most likely on one of the last flights from Doha to Dubai – and we certainly didn't realize it would be the last time our family would visit Qatar for the foreseeable future.

Waking up in Dubai later in the day on June 5, my heart sunk when the news of the blockade against Qatar began trickling in. I had so many questions…so much I wanted to say…and I had this overwhelming feeling of protection for a country I love so much.

Now, almost three months in to this blockade, the one question I still sit with is ‘why?’ Why have they done this? What do they want to achieve from all this? What is actually behind all this?

Initially, my opinion was they thought attacking Qatar like this would affect the country’s ability to operate, and people’s ability to go about their daily lives – but clearly they don't really know the Qatari people that well. Although a small dot in the Gulf, Qatar has a big heart; its people and leaders are smart, diverse, and have weathered many storms.

All over the UAE media was ‘Qatar and terrorism’ – a notion that, after living in Qatar for many years, I really struggled to get my head around how it could even be possible. There weren’t ever any actual examples or reasons given by the blockading nations…just this word 'terrorism' used constantly.

Some perspective: let's look at the list of the 9/11 attackers’ nationalities. All except one came from countries accusing Qatar of terrorism. Should these countries not be more focused on what's happening in their own backyards? Were these accusations against Qatar meant to divert attention away from what was and is also going on in these countries?

Then there’s the apparent issue with Qatar supporting Iran. Here in the UAE, how they can back these allegations towards Qatar, or have their name involved in such a topic when the UAE has supported Iran far more than Qatar. In fact, as of March 2017, the UAE was Iran’s second largest export destination after China.

When Iran was sanctioned internationally over its nuclear program back in 2012/2013, who provided an unofficial back-door for them to continue trading? You guessed it – the UAE, the same people accusing Qatar of supporting Iran.Here’s that story.

Here in Dubai, I also can’t help but question how coincidental it is that, after blocking all Al Jazeera channels and its affiliates in the UAE, suddenly, and without explanation, beIN Sports was re-instated just in time for the beginning of the Premier League football season a few weeks ago.

When the UAE brought in a new law with huge sanctions for anybody that supported Qatar I felt angered. People were confused about what was allowed to be said, and suddenly Qatar became a word nobody dare spoke about.

Then came the day, a week or two after the blockade began, when my son was instructed at his nursery school to stop playing with his favourite toy – a Qatar Airways model plane, because people didn't want to 'get involved'. How can a toddler playing with a toy possibly mean anything – or be any kind of a political statement? But the UAE has now put such fear into people that now our opinions, thoughts, and truth will be suppressed in favour of biased government media news.

Again, my heart and mind circles back to the question of why the blockading nations have chosen this course against Qatar…One would think such drastic actions would usually come as a means of last resort – when all other dialogue has failed and all other options have been exhausted. Not as a first means to impose and ‘negotiate’.

To break families up, not give any warning at all to travelers, families, businesses, or anyone for that matter is a human rights issue on a global scale. I can’t help but wonder – if this had been in any other country in the world, the correct international agencies would have already stepped in to stop it.

Yet, as the blockade continues, what we’re seeing is minimal evidence of all claims against Qatar, families who are still separated and, what was just a small dot in the Gulf, show the world it won't be bullied.

What are your thoughts on the current GCC crisis? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us your opinion. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!

*[Editor’s Note: The author’s name has been changed to protect their identity due to the recent implementation of strict penalties faced by UAE residents speaking out in sympathy towards Qatar in the wake of the GCC crisis.]