The Saudi-led embargo on Qatar means that container lines can no longer use deepwater terminals in the UAE for Qatari transshipment cargo, causing disruption to supply chains and forcing carriers to reroute cargo through Omani ports on the Arabian Sea. But the suspension of transshipment at the UAE’s giant Jebel Ali and Khalifa ports may also be an opportunity for Qatar's biggest seaport, Hamad Port.
"It's a blessing in disguise," a Hamad Port official told Reuters. "We're looking at signing agreements with shipping companies that can improve direct services instead of having to come through Jebel Ali."
The port has already added four new services, two from India and two feeder routes from Oman. And the port's operations manager suggested that more deals may be in the works soon. With all of the new trade lanes, officials say that business is already back up to normal levels despite the embargo.
An official with knowledge of the diplomatic situation told Bloomberg on Thursday that Saudi and UAE leaders will relay a full list of demands to mediators over the weekend – a starting point for negotiations between the two sides. Qatar contends that Saudi Arabia's public statements, which call for the suspension of Qatari support for Hamas and Hezbollah and an end to Qatar's warming relations with Iran, are not specific enough to form a basis for discussion. Once the detailed demands are delivered, officials say, the crisis may be resolved in short order.
"I am sure this storm will pass peacefully to the benefit of the Gulf Cooperation Council," said Kuwaiti Sheikh Salem al-Ali al-Sabah, speaking to Al-Seyassah. al-Sabah credited the Emir of Kuwait for his efforts to mediate between the parties.