Kuwait unites Qatari-Gulf families separated by Saudi-led blockade

Kuwait unites Qatari-Gulf families separated by Saudi-led blockade
3 min read
05 December, 2017
Families torn apart by the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain speak of the difficulties they face in trying to reunited and meet regularly.
Kuwait has since moved to mediate the crisis [AFP]
Kuwaiti citizen Ahmed bin Bandar Al Khaldi prepares tea and coffee to offer his cousins visiting from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In recent months, his home has become the family's meeting point, after the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar divided families across the Gulf region.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain imposed a land and air embargo of Doha and banned their citizens from visiting the country while ordering the expulsion from their countries.

Kuwait has since moved to mediate the crisis, with its leader making several appeals against the continued blockade.

The siege has led to the forcible separation of many families living across the four states, and saw over 480 cases filed with Human Rights Watch involving family separation.

The political crisis moved to tear apart the social fabric across the region, particularly among Arab tribes who live on the borders of the Gulf coast and had been used to moving freely across countries.

"These tribes were present in those areas long before borders were drawn between Gulf states," Mohammed al-Anzi, a professor of history at the University of Kuwait told The New Arab.

"It is common to find among those tribes cousins of different nationalities because of overlapping in areas. So the closure of the borders is a major problem for these people, particularly those who intermarry."

Qatari national Mohammad, who declined to reveal his full name to protect his family, is married to a cousin from a Saudi aunt.

Mohammad's wife has not been able to visit her family who lives in Al-Ahsa, eastern Saudi Arabia, since the blockade on Qatar was imposed.

"My wife met with her family in Kuwait on Eid, and we have been trying to reunite the family whenever it is possible," he told The New Arab.

Dozens of Qataris flock to Kuwait every week to meet with families from UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Al Sayed Ahmad, a worker at the Jumeirah Hotel on the Arabian Gulf coast in Kuwait told The New Arab.

The hotel has seen a rise in bookings following the blockade, he added.

The blockade on Qatar has left the families torn apart with great phycological pressure, many suffering stress and depression.

"The situation has particularly affected family members with relatives who have passed away or are suffering from serious illnesses but are barred from visiting," Adnan al-Shatti, psychology professor at the University of Kuwait told The New Arab.

Qatari national Mohammed Al-Hajri stressed that the move has caused divisions among tribes, highlighting differences between them.

"How can this be happening in modern societies?" he told The New Arab, "Why do the countries blockade us? How can we explain this to our young children who have not been able to see their grandparents as a result of this long and brutal siege?"

Al-Hajri tries to meet with his Saudi cousins in Kuwait as regularly as possible.

"We are all still in shock," he said, "We never expected matters to reach this stage, where we have to plan ahead and make so much arrangements just to see our cousins and unite our children with the rest of the family."