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Qatar sends first ambassador to Saudi Arabia since Gulf crisis

Bandar Mohamed Abdullah al-Attiyah was previously Qatar's ambassador to Kuwait, and was appointed on Wednesday
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) welcomes the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to the city of Al'Ula in January 2021 (AFP)

Qatar has appointed its first ambassador to Saudi Arabia after the diplomatic rift that saw an alliance of countries, led by Riyadh, sever all ties with the Gulf emirate.

Bandar Mohamed Abdullah al-Attiyah was appointed as Qatar's new ambassador to Saudi Arabia during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Attiyah had previously served as Qatari ambassador to Kuwait, which attempted to mediate talks between Doha and Riyadh.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt imposed a land, air and sea embargo on Qatar. The four countries accused Qatar of supporting terrorism across the Middle East - a claim Doha has denied. 

But earlier this year, the quartet agreed to restore all ties with Qatar during a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman. The move coincided with the election of US President Joe Biden.

In June, Saudi Arabia appointed Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud to be the kingdom's first ambassador to Qatar since the rift. He was received by Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, in the capital Doha. 

Since the re-establishing of ties there have been cautious steps towards normality, including the resumption of air travel between the two countries and the reopening of Qatar's sole land border, with Saudi Arabia. Egypt has also re-established diplomatic ties with Qatar, but the UAE and Bahrain have yet to do so. A senior UAE official said it would take time to rebuild trust with Qatar.