Probably the most significant diplomatic trip of the entire year, in my humble opinion. The King and Queen’s visit to Qatar is incredibly important, and may signify the beginning of a thaw period between the two countries that have been at odds with each other for various reasons. Efforts to put this relationship back on track began earlier this month with the Prime Minister’s visit. During this last visit, labor agreements were signed for the first time, covering 36,000 Jordanians who already work in Qatar. Visa and travel restrictions have long been the first resort of measures taken by the Qatar government whenever problems between the two countries arose. Shutting down Al Jazeera’s local office is usually the Jordanian government’s response, or vice versa. To put this in context, it is fairly common to see Al Jazeera running a very negative report about Jordan, which is followed by Jordan shutting down their Amman office, which is followed by visa restrictions by the Qatari government, which means a lot of people either can’t go back to work or can’t go home to see their families. I’ve heard some personal stories on that level; imagine being stranded in the foreign country for several months.
In Jordanian public circles, the icy relationship is some how connected to this unofficial competition between HM Queen Rania and Sheikha Mozah, but I kind of doubt that that’s accurate, let alone realistic. Nevertheless, that is the perception that has run rampant in the public sphere for the past few years.
In any case, here’s hoping this is the beginning of a better relationship between these two countries. Qatar is some what the only Gulf country I can actually admire or at least respect from a model perspective. I just hope this whole thing doesn’t go kaput when the next Al Jazeera profile airs.
via: Jordan Times