Olympics: Qatar and UAE leaders meet for first time since Gulf thaw

UAE news websites published a video clip of the two leaders speaking.

 THE EMBLEM OF the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is seen on a glass door at the National Alpine Skiing Center in the Chinese capital, last week. (photo credit: TINGSHU WANG/REUTERS)
THE EMBLEM OF the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is seen on a glass door at the National Alpine Skiing Center in the Chinese capital, last week.
(photo credit: TINGSHU WANG/REUTERS)

Qatar's emir met the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates during an official event at the Beijing Winter Olympics, in the first such interaction between the two Gulf leaders since four Arab states agreed to end a dispute with Doha over a year ago.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the sidelines of a lunch hosted by China's president on Saturday, Qatar's state news agency said.

UAE news websites published a video clip of the two leaders speaking.

Abu Dhabi has yet to restore diplomatic ties with Doha since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January 2021 to end a row that led them to boycott Qatar in mid-2017, though a senior Emirati official visited Doha last August.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt last year appointed ambassadors to Qatar. All but Bahrain have restored travel and trade links.

 The Beijing Olympic Tower is pictured ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH) The Beijing Olympic Tower is pictured ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)

The dispute erupted over accusations that Doha supported terrorism -- a reference to Islamist groups -- and its ties with regional adversary Iran and Turkey. Doha denies the charges.

The UAE, under a more conciliatory foreign policy driven by economic priorities, is engaging with both Tehran and Ankara, with which ties were badly strained over the role of Islamist groups following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.