Qatar, Saudi National Teams Set to Face Off in Semifinals of Gulf Cup in Doha

Qatar defeated the United Arab Emirates, 4-2, in the quarterfinals of the Gulf Cup being played in Doha, Qatar on Monday. The win advances the host country’s team to a semifinal match against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

The match between the two teams has extra intrigue as the two nations play each other for the first time since several Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, have boycotted Qatar over disagreements on several issues.

However, evidence that the diplomatic standoff is thawing continues to mount. Qatar’s foreign minister made an unannounced trip to Riyadh last month to meet with top Saudi officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on November 28th.  During that trip, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani “made a surprise offer to end the breach while he was in Riyadh, saying that Doha is willing to sever its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political movement distrusted by the Saudi monarchy and its allies…That would meet a major demand made by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries when they severed diplomatic ties and cut transportation links with Qatar in 2017,” according to the WSJ report.

Earlier last month, a senior Saudi official in Washington told Bloomberg that Qatar has “taken some steps toward resolving its tensions with its Gulf neighbors but must still do more.”

The match between Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be played at the Al Janoub Stadium in Doha on Wednesday.