UAE withdraws bid for 2026 World Bank-IMF meetings in favor of Qatar

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has withdrawn its bid to host the 2026 World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting and will instead support Qatar as a potential host, the office of Qatar’s emir and the UAE’s state news agency said on Sunday, in the latest sign of warming ties between the Gulf neighbors.

The decision came during a phone call between UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, statements from state news agency WAM and the Amiri Diwan said.

In Sunday’s phone call, Sheikh Mohammed pledged the UAE’s support for Qatar’s bid to host the meetings and “wished the Emir and the people of Qatar every success in hosting this global gathering,” WAM’s statement said.

The two leaders also “explored areas for further collaboration,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in early 2021 ended a 3-1/2 year embargo on ties with Qatar, but relations between Doha and Abu Dhabi had not warmed up at the same pace as those with Riyadh and Cairo, which re-established diplomatic ties with Doha.

The political dispute that had seen Riyadh and its allies sever all ties with Qatar – over its support for groups that they deem a threat to Gulf dynastic rule and its ties with rivals Iran and Turkey – had shattered the six-nation Gulf bloc.

But relations between Abu Dhabi and Doha have warmed in recent months with Sheikh Mohammed visiting Qatar during the soccer World Cup last December.

Bahrain and Qatar last month held the first round of bilateral talks aimed at repairing relations. Abu Dhabi, like Manama, has not appointed an envoy to Doha, but restored travel and trade links with Qatar.

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