Middle East ports ease Qatar restrictions

Jebel Alli port Jebel Alli port. Imre Solt [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

DP World has eased Qatar shipping restrictions in a move that follows Abu Dhabi Ports and allows third party shippers to move cargo to and from Qatar after an extensive ban.

In a circular dated 21 February, DP World, which operates the Port of Jebel Ali — from which much of Qatar’s trade used to flow through, said that while Qatari-flagged ships and vessels with Qatari owners are still prohibited, other vessels coming to and from Qatar and ships carrying cargo between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are not barred, reported Bloomberg.

The circular follows a similar one by Abu Dhabi Ports on 12 February, but in a circular also dated 21 February the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority said there had been no adjustment to the embargo of Qatar. It said the Abu Dhabi Ports circular was “misinterpreted” and it would issue a clarification to ports. It has not commented on the circular issued by DP World.

In 2017, countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut air and sea traffic to Qatar over the country’s perceived support for Islamist groups. Port experts said that container trade in the landlocked country would likely suffer. Kuwait and Oman are believed to have remained neutral.

In March 2018, Qatar and Sudan made a $4bn deal to develop Sudan’s second-biggest port, Suakin.

Port Strategy has contacted the UAE Federal Transport Authority for comment.

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