Ivanka Trump attended the Doha Forum in the Qatari capital over the weekend, having arrived on December 13 with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The forum took place on Saturday and Sunday, and brought together top government and business leaders.The US was searching out bilateral meetings in Qatar, including discussions about combating terrorism and illicit finance. Qatar is important for the US-Taliban talks about Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative on Afghanistan reconciliation, was reportedly in Doha for several days after December 6, and was in Pakistan on Friday.The Doha confab came a month after the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue meetings in the Bahraini capital from November 22-24.Each event in the Gulf is supposed to showcase links between the region and the wider world, and also represents some of the divisions in the Gulf since 2017, when Saudi Arabia led Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt to break relations with Qatar. Since then, the two worlds that interact with Doha and Manama are a bit different. For instance, at Manama in November were Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, US CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and the Somalian foreign minister.Manama also include the French defense minister, a Turkish deputy foreign minister, Chinese envoy for China-Arab states cooperation Li Chengwen, the Japanese defense minister, the UK national security adviser and an official from Germany.Among Doha’s list of speakers was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, as well as Turkey’s foreign minister and defense minister. Qatar and Turkey are key allies.Also attending were a large number of African Union representatives, as well as an activist for the Yazidi organization, Yazda. Romanian officials, Ecuador's vice president, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the Japanese defense minister, the Rwandan president, El Salvador's president, Armenia's president and the Slovakian foreign minister came to Doha. American attendees included US Senator Lindsey Graham, former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson and Jane Harman of the Wilson Center.Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Affairs, spoke, as did Andrey Kortunov of the Russian International Affairs Council. Other speakers included the Somalian prime minister, the CEOs of several major European banks, Prof. Tuosheng Zhang of the Chinese Foundation for International Strategic Studies, Qatari human rights officials, a former UN special rapporteur on human rights and Human Rights Watch representative Sarah Leah Whitson.Doha also featured media representatives, including the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed and an editor-at-large from The Hill.The two confabs are important for sharing ideas and grounding various leaders in the region, but they also help to showcase the power and influence of the ostensibly rival camps of Riyadh and Doha. In many ways, for outside powers from Europe to China, or even Somalia and Japan, attendance at both is worthwhile.The two conferences seem to have very different agendas as well. For Doha the importance is placed more on Turkey and also on Palestinian issues. For instance. Saeb Erakat and Hanan Ashrawi were both in Doha to speak. Qatar and Turkey both have amicable relations with Hamas, but none of their representatives seemed to come. Hamas had a major delegation to Turkey recently.The Bahrain confab focused more on Gulf security, especially after Iran’s recent attack on Saudi Arabia, and sought to shore up the US-Gulf relationship as well as Jordan’s connections to the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.Qatar is hoping for progress with Saudi Arabia to resolve the dispute that has dragged on. In 2017, Riyadh and its allies wanted Qatar to curtail Al Jazeera and cut off relationships with various “terrorist” groups as well as toe the line on the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) views of Iran and the region.In short, this would mean reducing Qatar’s role over the years in working with Muslim Brotherhood-aligned political groups, Hamas, or even its tendency to host the Taliban and to appear soft on Iran or Hezbollah. The US role is key here, because the US under President Donald Trump appeared to drive hard for a closer Saudi relationship. But in fact, the US hedged on this and continues to do so. The US needs Qatar to help it get out of Afghanistan with a deal with the Taliban.Qatar views itself as riding a wave of success and having made the right choices. Combining soft power of state-influenced media, support for western think-tanks and working closely with Turkey, which sent troops to Qatar, has positioned the emirate well between Iran, the US and Turkey. Saudi Arabia has been portrayed as having made mistakes in its Yemen war – where it is fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels – and overplaying its hand elsewhere.But Riyadh has pushed ahead. Earlier this month, Qatar’s prime minister attended the GCC meeting held in Saudi Arabia, but the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani did not attend. Saudi Arabia also pushed forward with an initial public offering (IPO) for Aramco, bringing the company to a $2 trillion valuation. Not bad for Riyadh after the pressure it was under in the wake of the Abqaiq refinery attack in September.The Doha Forum’s success is in numbers, with thousands of attendees from dozens of countries. But while Doha feels more weightier in numbers, Manama feels more precise in its goals. For the Gulf States, these kinds of forums are easy to put on, and they offer a good venue. The question is whether they are effective.The competition and crises in the Gulf probably has helped them both. They have also created two ecosystems of attendees and alliances. This is part of a larger regional and global struggle. It may be one that is showing signs of reducing the anger of 2017 and moderating comments of the past.