A picture shows the Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar's principal site for production of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquid, administrated by Qatar Petroleum, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the capital Doha, on February 6, 2017. (Karim Jaafar / AFP)
DOHA/DUBAI — Qatar said Monday it had begun shipping cargo through Oman to bypass Gulf countries that have cut off sea routes to the tiny, energy-rich nation, the latest move by Doha to show it can survive a diplomatic dispute with its neighbors.
Qatar's port authority published video showing a container ship loaded down with cargo arriving at Doha's Hamad Port from Oman's port of Sohar to a water-cannon welcome.
Typically, cargo for Qatar stops at Dubai's massive deep-water Jebel Ali port or in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, then gets put on smaller boats heading to Doha. But since June 5, the UAE has joined Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in cutting off sea traffic to Qatar as part of the nations’ severing diplomatic ties over Qatar's alleged support of extremists groups and close ties to Iran.
A lot of people think we're the only ones to lose in this... If we're going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also.
Ali Sherif al-Emadi, Finance Minister, Qatar
Qatar's port authority said its cargo will go through Sohar, as well as Oman's port at Salalah, bypassing the need to dock in any of those countries that have cut ties. Global shipper Maersk already has said it will begin using Salalah for its shipments to Qatar.
Meanwhile, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency has said two Iranian navy vessels will stop off in Oman soon as part of an anti-piracy patrol. Oman, not among those countries cutting ties to Qatar, routinely serves as a back-channel negotiator for Western governments needing to speak to Tehran.
‘QATAR CAN DEFEND ECONOMY, CURRENCY’
Qatari finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi has said his country can easily defend its economy and currency against sanctions by the Arab states.
The countries which had imposed sanctions would also lose money because of the damage to business in the region, he told CNBC television in an interview broadcast on Monday.
"A lot of people think we're the only ones to lose in this... If we're going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also."
Emadi said the energy sector and economy of the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter were essentially operating as normal and that there had not been a serious impact on supplies of food or other goods.