Saudi Arabia revokes all Qatar Airways licences as row escalates

Saudi Arabia has shut down all Qatar Airways offices in its kingdom and revoked the airline’s licences, according to the state news agency, as the diplomatic row between the tiny kingdom and its Gulf neighbours widens.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Doha in a coordinated move on Monday, followed by the internationally recognised governments of Yemen and Libya, and the Indian Ocean island nation The Maldives.

Land, air and sea travel have been severed, and Qatari citizens have been given 48 hours to leave the affected countries.

The escalating crisis could have huge economic and political impact on the Middle East, including the region’s many conflicts.

The unprecedented row has been caused in part by backlash over Qatar’s decision to rescue 24 members of the royal family, as well as two Saudi nationals, who were kidnapped by Shia paramilitaries while on a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

Doha’s agreement to pay the extraordinary $500m (£389m) ransom greatly angered its Gulf neighbours, who have long accused it of funding or otherwise supporting controversial groups.

The Qatari authorities have reached out to Kuwait as a mediator, it was reported Tuesday.

Ruler Sheikh Sabah IV is reportedly preparing to fly to Riyadh for talks with Saudi King Salman.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is expected to publicly address the crisis in a s speech later on Tuesday.

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