Tag Archives: UAE

Israel, UAE deal marks “New Era” – PM, Netanyahu

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed “a new era” between Israel and the Arab world on Thursday following a historic US-brokered deal to normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates.

The pact first announced by President Donald Trump includes an agreement from Israel to “suspend” its plans to annex Jewish settlements and territory in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called an “urgent meeting” of his leadership team before announcing the Palestinian Authority’s reaction to the deal.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, rejected the Israel-UAE pact as “a reward for the Israeli occupation and crimes” and said it “does not serve the Palestinian people”.

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Speaking after Trump’s announcement, Netanyahu said he had agreed to delayed annexation plans, but that the project remained “on the table”.

“I will never give up our rights to our land,” the right-wing premier said.

Netanyahu told a televised news conference: “Today a new era began in the relations between Israel and the Arab world.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference in Jerusalem on August 13, 2020. – Israel and the UAE agreed to normalise relations in a landmark US-brokered deal, only the third such accord the Jewish state has struck with an Arab nation. Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP.

Netanyahu, like many in the Jewish state, refers to the occupied West Bank as Judea and Samaria and claims the territory as part of the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

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Israeli plans to annex roughly 30 percent of the West Bank, as outlined in a Trump Middle East peace proposal unveiled in January which triggered global outcry and threats of retaliation against the Jewish state, including from the European Union.

Israel’s alternate prime minister and Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, called the agreement “important and significant”.

“I call upon other Arab nations to advance diplomatic relations in additional peace agreements,” he said.

Once the deal is signed, the UAE will become the third Arab nation to have full diplomatic ties with Israel, following Israeli peace deals with Egypt and Jordan.


#Newsworthy…

US president, Trump makes surprise ‘peace agreement’ announcement between UAE & Israel.

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United States President Donald Trump on Thursday made the surprise announcement of a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is a “HUGE breakthrough” Trump tweeted, calling it a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends.”

Speaking to reporters later, Trump suggested more diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and its Muslim neighbors in the region were expected.

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with US President Donald Trump, speaks during an announcement of Trump’s Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020.  MANDEL NGAN / AFP

“Things are happening that I can’t talk about,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: 292 Nigerians arrives Abuja from UAE

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Two hundred and ninety-two Nigerians have returned from the United Arab Emirates, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to 2,933.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this in a tweet via its official handle on Wednesday.

It explained that the evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 02:30 pm on board an Emirates flight.

Although the agency said the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19, they would be undergoing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, in line with the guidelines issued by the Federal Government.

Today’s evacuation from the UAE comes two days after 288 more Nigerians returned from the country.

On Sunday, NIDCOM said 327 Nigerians returned from the United Kingdom.

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As at June 2020, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians from overseas.

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had directed all Nigerians interested in returning to the country to work with Nigeria’s embassies and high commissions where they are.

“What is important to get out to all Nigerians is that their engagement and communication should be with the embassies, high commissions and not with any other parallel agency, department of government or anything like that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular daily activities in several countries across the world, leaving millions of people stranded in foreign nations.

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Against the backdrop of the outbreak, many countries initiated the process of evacuating their citizens back home.

Nigeria is not left out as the Federal Government has facilitated the repatriation of thousands of its citizens stranded abroad.

Among the nations where Nigerians have been brought back home include the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, France, Ethiopia, and several others.


#Newsworthy….

Breaking: 288 Nigerians returns from UAE – total now over 2,500.

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Two hundred and eighty-eight more Nigerians have returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to 2,641.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this in a tweet via its official handle on Monday.

It explained that the evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 11:00 am onboard an Air Peace flight.

Although the agency said the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19, they would be undergoing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, in line with the guidelines issued by the Federal Government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular daily activities in several countries across the world, leaving millions of people stranded in foreign nations.

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Against the backdrop of the outbreak, many countries initiated the process of evacuating their citizens back home.

Nigeria is not left out as the Federal Government has facilitated the repatriation of thousands of its citizens stranded abroad.

Among the nations where Nigerians have been brought back home include the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, France, Ethiopia, and several others.

Monday’s evacuation from the UAE comes two days after 311 Nigerians returned from the country.

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On Sunday, NIDCOM said 327 Nigerians returned from the United Kingdom.

As at June 2020, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians from overseas.

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had directed all Nigerians interested in returning to the country to work with Nigeria’s embassies and high commissions where they are.

“What is important to get out to all Nigerians is that their engagement and communication should be with the embassies, high commissions and not with any other parallel agency, department of government or anything like that.”


#Newsworthy…

Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari moves to UAE for medical treatment

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The First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari is reported to have travelled out of the country to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirate for undisclosed reasons.

Although the office of the First Lady could not confirm the reason for her trip, there are strong indications that Mrs Buhari may be receiving medical attention in the Arab country.

The First Lady who was last seen in public during the Eid-el-Kabir prayers with her family at the villa reportedly left the country after the celebration.

She was said to have gone on 14 days isolation after visiting the Lagos home of Mrs Florence Ajimobi, the wife of former Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi who died of COVID-19 complications.

However, after the isolation, the president’s wife reportedly continued to experience the pains, prompting the Dubai trip.


#Newsworthy…

[Nigeria] 331 evacuees arrives Abuja from UAE

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Three hundred and thirty-one Nigerians have arrived in Abuja, the nation’s capital from the United Arab Emirates.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (UAE) disclosed this on Friday via Twitter.

According to the agency, the flight conveying the returnees landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 1424hours.

“Emirates flight conveying 331 Evacuees landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja at about 1424HRS from the United Arab Emirates UAE, today Friday, 7th of August, 2020,” said NIDCOM.

The aircraft carrying Nigerian returnees from UAE land at the Nnamdi International Airport, Abuja on August 7, 2020. (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

The returnees are to undergo mandatory self-isolation in line with guidelines from the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Following their return today, the number of evacuees from the UAE has risen 2,042.

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This comes two days after 306 Nigerians were repatriated from the UAE.

According to the agency, although the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19, they will be undergoing mandatory self-isolation in line with PTF and NCDC guidelines.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travels across the world, thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home.

In early June, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians returning from overseas.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 306 Nigerians in UAE arrives Abuja – NIDCOM

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Three hundred and six Nigerians have arrived the country from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said the returnees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 8:00am.

“Some Evacuees will disembark in Abuja while others will proceed to MM Int’l Airport, Lagos,” NIDCOM tweeted on its handle.

According to the agency, although the evacuees have tested negative to COVID-19, they will be undergoing mandatory self-isolation in line with guidelines from the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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On July 30th, about 102 stranded Nigerians arrived in Abuja from Morocco.

The evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport with Air Morocco from Casablanca.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travels across the world, thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home.

In early June, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians returning from overseas.


#Newsworthy…

United Arab Emirates commences first ‘Nuclear Plant’

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The oil-rich United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced the startup of its Barakah nuclear power plant, scoring another first for the Arab world.

The announcement, coinciding with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, comes hot on the heels of the UAE’s launch of the Arab world’s first probe to Mars.

“UAE first nuclear reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has achieved first criticality and successfully started up,” tweeted Hamad Alkaabi, the country’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to deliver a new form of clean energy for the nation,” he tweeted in English, along with a photograph of technicians raising their arms in celebration.

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The UAE premier and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, tweeted that work at Barakah had “succeeded in loading nuclear fuel packages, carrying out comprehensive tests and successfully completing the operation”.

A general view of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. STRINGER / WAM / AFP

“Congratulations on realising this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the roadmap for sustainable development,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE started loading fuel rods into the reactor at Barakah in February, after regulators gave the green light for the first of the plant’s four reactors, opening the way for commercial operations.

The plant on the Gulf coast west of Abu Dhabi had been due to go online in late 2017 but faced a number of delays that officials attributed to safety and regulatory requirements.

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The Nawah Energy Company said at the time that Unit 1 would begin commercial operations after a “series of tests” leading to the start-up process.

During the process, the unit would be synchronised with the power grid and the first electricity produced.

The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but with a power-hungry population of 10 million it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar energy.

Barakah, which means “blessing” in Arabic, is a regional first — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has said it plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project has yet to materialise.

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Barakah was built by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation at a cost of some $24.4 billion.

Another view of the Gharbiya power plant. Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP

When fully operational, its four reactors have the capacity to generate 5,600 megawatts of electricity, around 25 percent of the nation’s needs. The remaining three reactors are almost ready for operation.

As well as generating competitively priced electricity, the UAE also hopes the nuclear plant will elevate its status as a key regional player, building on its success as a hub for tourism, banking and services.

The fourth largest crude producer in the OPEC cartel, the country was built on oil and sits on a huge, recently discovered gas field.

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Nevertheless, it is spending billions to develop enough renewable energy to cover half of its needs by 2050.

“This is part of the UAE’s drive to diversify its energy economy, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and project its image as a regional leader in science and technology,” a Gulf analyst told AFP.

No enrichment
On July 20, the first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed “Hope”, blasted off from Japan on a mission to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The Barakah plant, on the coast facing Iran across the Gulf, stands just 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Saudi border and closer to Qatar’s capital Doha than to Abu Dhabi.

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Amid a tense confrontation between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear programme, the UAE has said it will not be developing a uranium enrichment programme or nuclear reprocessing technologies.

A file photo taken on November 12, 2019 as a handout picture obtained from the media office of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant on February 13, shows a general view of the power plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP

Qatar, the target of a boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others since June 2017, last year said the Barakah plant poses a “flagrant threat to regional peace and environment”.

The UAE has repeatedly said its nuclear ambitions are for “peaceful purposes” and moved to dispel any concerns over safety.

It says it has welcomed more than 40 international reviews and inspection missions.


#Newsworthy…

US-sought ‘hijacked’ tanker now in Iran

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International Labour Organization says MT Gulf Sky was hijacked on July 5 and all 28 Indian crew disembarked in Iran.


A United Nations agency has acknowledged that a US-sought oil tanker “hijacked” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil is back in Iranian waters.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Sunday said the MT Gulf Sky was hijacked on July 5, citing its captain. That mirrors earlier reporting by The Associated Press news agency

“The vessel was taken to Iran,” the ILO said. All 28 Indian crew members disembarked in Iran and all but two of the crew without passports flew from Tehran to India on July 15, it added.

The ILO cited the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network for its information. The agency earlier filed a report saying the vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners without pay since March off Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the UAE.

Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the hijacking and arrival of the MT Gulf Sky to Iran. The United States government similarly has not commented.

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In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12m to buy the tanker, then named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies.

Mystery tanker
Court documents allege the smuggling scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies.

The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.

A US bank froze funds associated with the sale, causing the seller to launch a lawsuit in the UAE to repossess the vessel, the Justice Department said earlier. That civil action was believed to still be pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.

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As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year, tankers plying the waters of the Middle East became targets, particularly near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf’s narrow mouth through which 20 percent of all oil passes.

In this July 21, 2019 photo, members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard inspect the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz [Morteza Akhoondi/Mehr News Agency via AP]
Suspected mine attacks the US blamed on Iran targeted several tankers. Iran denied any involvement.

Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf last year after British forces seized an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. Both vessels were released after a months-long standoff.

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A flotilla of tankers carrying Iranian fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela reached the US sanctions-hit nation in June.

The shipments caused a diplomatic standoff between Iran and Venezuela and the US as both nations are under American sanctions.

The US recently beefed up its naval presence in the Caribbean for what it said was an expanded anti-drug operation.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Israeli PM, Netanhayu louds plan to fight pandemic in cooperation with UAE

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Netanyahu says two countries will soon collaborate in different areas to improve region’s health security.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced Israel will join forces with the United Arab Emirates in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, despite the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“This collaboration will be in the areas of research and development and technology, in areas that will improve health security throughout the region,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday.

Netanyahu said a formal announcement on working together with the UAE on confronting coronavirus was imminent and would be made by the UAE and Israeli health ministers.

The announcement comes at a time of strong Arab opposition to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank – territories that form an integral part of a state Palestinians have long sought.

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Last week, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said it could work with Israel on some areas, including the battle against the coronavirus and on technology, despite political differences.

Addressing a military ceremony in southern Israel, Netanyahu said the effort stemmed from intensive contacts with the UAE in recent months.

The UAE’s state-run news agency WAM confirmed that two companies from the UAE will be working with two Israeli companies on medical projects, including those to combat the new coronavirus.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Arab countries in the Gulf, but common concerns about Iran’s regional influence have led to a limited thaw in relations.

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In May, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad made the first known flight by a UAE carrier to Israel, carrying coronavirus-related aid for the Palestinians.

Speaking to a conference of the American Jewish Committee advocacy group on June 16, Gargash said Israel cannot expect to normalise relations with Arab countries if it annexes West Bank land. He also said cooperation with Israel on the COVID-19 pandemic would not affect the UAE’s opposition to annexation.

Israel is due on July 1 to begin a cabinet debate on extending Israeli sovereignty to illegally built Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The United States-backed plan has sparked Palestinian anger and has been met with growing opposition by much of the international community.


#Newsworthy…

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Osinbajo leaves Nigeria, head for UAE Peace forum.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Abuja for the City of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

He is expected to speak on ‘The Role of Religions in Promoting Tolerance: From Possibility to Necessity’ at the Sixth Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said that VP Osinbajo’s speech is scheduled as the forum’s keynote address.

“The Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies is an annual event organized by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

“Prof. Osinbajo’s speech is scheduled as the forum’s keynote address.

“The Sixth Assembly envisages an opportunity to initiate a civilized dialogue on the formulation of a new concept of tolerance, one that is humane and generous, and to transform a perspective that makes tolerance a religious imperative.”

He also stated that VP Osinbajo will be at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, to meet with Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

Both leaders are expected to discuss bilateral issues on how to continue to expand diplomatic and economic relationships between Nigeria and the UAE.

“At the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Vice President will meet with Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Both leaders will discuss bilateral issues on how to continue to expand diplomatic and economic relationships between Nigeria and the UAE.”

#Newsworthy..

Gulf Cup: Rivals Qatar, UAE to face-off for s’final spot

Asian champions and hosts Qatar are set to face regional rivals the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a decisive football match at the 24th Arabian Gulf Cupin Doha.

Kick-off for the sold-out Group A encounter is at 5:30pm local time (14:30 GMT) on Monday at the Khalifa International Stadium, a 40,000-capacity venue, in the Qatari capital, reports al-Jazeera.

A semi-final berth is up for grabs at the biennial regional tournament after both teams lost to Iraq and recorded wins over Yemen in their opening two group matches.

Qatar need a draw to advance on goal difference, while a win for the 2017 finalists UAE will see them through to the knock-out stage.

“We will enter Monday’s game against the UAE with an aim to win. I know even a draw is good for us against them, but it’s always risky to play for a draw. We are taking it as a final,” Felix Sanchez, Qatar’s Spanish coach, said at a news conference.

UAE coach Bert van Marwijk from the Netherlands admitted his side has a tough task ahead.

“In my opinion, they [Qatar] are the best, but we will have our destiny in our hand as we have our chance. We have to give our best to win against them,” he told reporters before the match.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, were included late in the draw after they reversed their earlier decision to boycott the football event over a two-year-old diplomatic dispute with Qatar.

The trio, along with Egypt, continue to impose a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar after severing ties in June 2017 accusing it of “supporting terrorism”, a charge repeatedly and vehemently rejected by Doha.

But their football teams’ decision to participate and reports that the Saudi team took a direct flight from Riyadh to Doha for the tournament have signalled a thaw in ties, according to some analysts.

‘Lower stakes’

Qatar, ranked 55 in the world, head into Monday’s encounter with a superior head-to-head record against the UAE: 12 wins and 10 losses. The UAE are placed at 71, according to FIFA’s latest rankings.

The two sides last faced off in a highly charged AFC Asian Cup semi-final earlier this year, which Qatar won 4-0 en route to their maiden Asian title.

That bad-tempered game in January in Abu Dhabi saw Emirati fans loudly booing and whistling throughout the Qatari national anthem, while dozens sat for its duration before standing for the UAE anthem.

Local fans also hurled shoes and bottles at Qatari players during the match.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) later sanctioned the UAE Football Association with a fine of $150,000 and ordered its national team to play a home match behind closed doors.

Tensions also boiled over days after the match with the UAE FA lodging a complaintover claims the Qatari team used two ineligible players during the tournament.

The Emirati appeal was subsequently dismissed by the AFC just hours before the kick-off for Qatar’s final against Japan.

Dismissing concerns of a hostile rematch in Doha, Ali al-Salat, the head of media for 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, said: “The fans, I think, are aware of the importance of this competition.”

“We won’t see these kinds of things and what happened in the Asian Cup it doesn’t represent all the fans of football at that time, just a few people who have done that.”

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, author of The Gulf States In International Political Economy, concurred.

“I don’t expect the Qatari supporters to behave in the same way that marred the semi-final of the Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi earlier this year,” he told Al Jazeera.

According to Christopher Davidson, a UK-based expert on the Middle East, the “stakes are much lower” in sporting terms.

But he added: “No government can be expected to control the behaviour of each and every one of its citizens, and the prospect of a couple of rogue fans acting out of line seems a very real one.”

All eight teams will be in action on Monday – the last day of the group stage. The other Group A match features Yemen against Iraq, who have already booked their place in the semi-finals.

In Group B, 10-time winners Kuwait face Bahrain, while the defending champions Oman are up against three-time winners Saudi Arabia.

#Newsworthy…