SPA

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off an official trip to the GCC yesterday with a visit to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

He first went to Jeddah, where he met King Salman and new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the ongoing GCC crisis.

Prior to leaving Istanbul, Erdogan stressed it “is not in anyone’s interests” to continue the dispute.

WAM

Flags of the boycotting nations (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt).

According to Al Jazeera, he also blamed unnamed “enemies” for seeking to “fire up tensions between brothers” in the region.

Erdogan has proven to be a key ally to Qatar since the country’s neighbors closed their borders and airspace, and is expected in Doha today.

He is the fifth world leader to visit the region to help resolve the crisis. It began nearly two months ago after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE closed their borders and airspace to Qatar for political reasons.

International support

So far, Turkey, France, the US and mediator Kuwait have all urged the Gulf states to end their fight with Qatar.

Just yesterday, the UK’s foreign secretary added his voice.

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs/Flickr

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson

In a statement, Boris Johnson welcomed recent changes Qatar made to its terrorism laws, adding:

“We hope in turn Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain respond by taking steps toward lifting the embargo. This will allow substantive discussions on remaining differences to begin.”

However, the boycotting countries continue to pressure Qatar to meet several demands.

In response to a speech the Emir made over the weekend, a senior UAE official welcomed Sheikh Tamim’s call for dialogue.

But he added that Qatar must make certain changes before talks can start.

That said, the UAE’s telecom providers did unblock Qatar-owned BeinSports this week, raising hopes that resolution is near.

Turkey’s help

When he visits Qatar today, Erdogan is expected to receive a warm welcome.

Turkey has supported Qatar over the past several weeks with food imports and by speeding up the deployment of Turkish troops to the country, as per a 2014 military agreement.

Ministry of Defense

Turkish troops arrive in Qatar

This will reportedly be Erdogan’s first face-to-face meeting with the Emir since the dispute began last month.

Thoughts?

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Drowning is a silent killer and can happen within seconds, especially in children.

This is why parents must watch their kids very closely when they are in the water, a Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) doctor has said.

The number of children who drown in Qatar is going up each year, the chairman of Qatar’s Kulluna Health and Safety campaign said this week.

Fatimah Ashraf Khan/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a statement, Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen added that 90 percent of drowning cases involve children under the age of 10 years old, and 70 percent of those cases are victims younger than four.

He added:

“Drowning incidents in Qatar occur mainly at home, in private swimming pools and bathtubs. There are also some incidents of drowning in the sea.

Almost all the drowning incidents in swimming pools in Qatar happen when the parent or caregiver is not present.”

He explained there are several myths about drowning, which include the belief that:

  • Children will follow instructions and stay away from water hazards;
  • Kids can safely be left unattended for short periods of time;
  • A lifejacket or flotation device will prevent drowning;
  • Adequate safety measures (such as a lifeguard) are already in place; and
  • Younger children can play safely in the care of older kids.

Safety tips

To help keep children safe, the doctor advised constant supervision, teaching children how to swim and setting/enforcing clear rules about what to do near water.

Learning to perform CPR is also recommended, and free courses are offered through Kulluna.

Elysia Windrum

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Finally, Saifeldeen recommended thinking beyond the obvious to reduce the risk of drowning.

According to Kulluna’s website, children in Qatar have drowned in swimming pools, baths, fish tanks, buckets, on building sites and in the sea.

“About 70 to 80 percent of drowning cases happen when the child is not supposed to be in the water,” Saifeldeen said.

For adults, the Ministry of Interior has previously advised not swimming alone; never replacing life jackets with plastic water rings as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe; and never using water rings of any type if the water is deep.

Thoughts?

QP/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The ongoing political and economic isolation of Qatar has only made the country and its people stronger, the president and CEO of Qatar Petroleum has said.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Saad Sherida Al Kaabi said the Gulf crisis has not affected Qatar’s LNG exports.

Listing 18 countries that rely on Doha’s reserves, including Japan, China, Germany and the UK, he added, “There is not a buyer of LNG that does not call on Qatar to supply it.”

Al Kaabi even expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE for taking action against his country.

“I would like to thank the four countries for their blockade, because it has made Qatar stronger, the people of Qatar stronger, their businesses stronger. We will come out of this much stronger than before,” he said.

Economic cost

Despite Al Kaabi’s remarks, Qatari officials have previously conceded that the boycott has raised expenses for the government.

For example, earlier this month Qatar’s foreign minister said it costs 10 times as much money to import food and medicine since the blockade started.

Al Meera

Turkish dairy products

The government is footing most of that bill to keep prices down for residents, he added at the time.

This is not great news for Qatar, which before the crisis had been slashing budgets amid lower global oil prices.

But officials have stressed that they have the resources to handle the challenge.

And some analysts have previously forecast that the country could ride out an economic embargo from its neighbors for months or even years.

Financial toll aside, the blockade has helped bolster Qatar’s image abroad, in that many nations have not sided with the quartet on their action.

Broken trust

Also yesterday, Al Kaabi affirmed that Qatar has no plans to cut off gas to the UAE, which depends heavily on Qatar’s gas to power its nation.

Legally, QP has that option, but “if you stop the gas, the biggest harm is to the people of the UAE. The people of the UAE are cousins, relatives, and friends … and we have nothing against them,” the CEO said.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Still, that doesn’t mean Qatar will forgive and forget everything that has transpired over the past seven weeks.

“The trust that we have built over the years has been broken overnight,” Al Kaabi told Al Jazeera.

Thoughts?

All photos courtesy of Baladna on Facebook

Moooove over, Turkish milk.

The second batch of a planned 4,000 cows has arrived in Qatar this weekend, local dairy farm Baladna has announced.

The Holsteins are expected to provide much-needed relief to Qatar’s existing dairy farms, which have been overworked since the Gulf dispute began last month.

Up until the boycott, Saudi Arabia met most of Qatar’s fresh dairy needs.

But once the nation closed its borders, authorities had to quickly arrange to bring in milk and yogurt from Turkey and other countries.

Big plans

A local businessman has since announced plans to spend $8 million on importing cows to help shore up the country’s own supply of the products.

Last month, Moutaz Al Khayyat, chairman of Power International Holding, said the cows will be flown in on as many as 60 Qatar Airways flights, from Germany, Australia and the US.

So far, 330 cows have made the journey, and some have even already given birth to calfs.

Baladna/Facebook

Baladna cows

The animals’ milk is being processed at a farm some 50km north of Doha.

Al Khayyat said he eventually hopes his farm will meet one-third of Qatar’s demand for fresh dairy products.

Thoughts?