Arab media critical of Qatari emir's abrupt exit

The emir left after the Arab League’s Abul Gheit criticised Arab countries he said were cooperating with "the devil."
Wednesday 03/04/2019
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (2-L) poses with other Arab leaders durin the 30th Arab League summit in Tunis, Tunisia. (AFP)
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (2-L) poses with other Arab leaders durin the 30th Arab League summit in Tunis, Tunisia. (AFP)

LONDON - The Qatari emir's abrupt departure from the recently held Arab League summit in Tunisia did not go unnoticed by regional media, drawing criticism from many news outlets.

On March 31, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani left the Arab League summit in Tunis early “after attending the opening ceremony,” Qatar’s official QNA news agency reported without elaborating.

Sheikh Tamim left the summit "as soon as Tunisian President Beji Caid Essibsi concluded his speech," reported the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had begun delivering his speech when the Qatari emir abruptly left the hall, without giving a speech, and headed directly to the airport, the report added.

Egyptian and Emirati media outlets were especially critical of Sheikh Tamim’s sudden exit. They stressed that the emir left after the Arab League’s Abul Gheit criticised Arab countries he said were cooperating with "the devil" and pointed to Turkish and Iranian roles in "destroying" the region.

On the Egyptian privately-owned Al-Nahar TV, pundit Tamer Amin described Sheikh Tamim's stance as "an admission that he is an agent for Iran and Turkey." Emirati daily Al-Bayan described the Qatari emir’s withdrawal as an indication of "Doha's intransigence and insistence on supporting terrorism."

"Qatar did not find a place among the Arab gathering that called for fighting terrorism and the countries supporting it, particularly Turkey and Iran," Al-Bayan added.

On social media, the Arabic hashtag "Tamim escapes Tunis summit" was searched more than 38,000 times within the first few hours of its launch, with most comments critical of the emir's move.

"When the Arab World condemned Iran and Turkey's interference in our internal affairs, Tamim was 'insulted' and fled the summit... I have never seen anything more cowardly and feeble!" Saudi user @999saudsalman tweeted in English.

Relations between Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) neighbours have been significantly strained since the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of supporting radical Islamic groups and supporting Iran at the expense and security of its Gulf Arab neighbours.

The Arab League meeting in Tunis was the first to bring Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Qatari emir under one roof since the dispute began. 

Sheikh Tamim did not attend the 29th Arab League summit, which was held in Saudi Arabia in April 2018, opting to send a modest Qatari delegation instead.