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Saudi journalists watch a large display screen in a media center, showing Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, center, at the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Qatar’s ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the high-level summit of Arab leaders, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its yearslong embargo on the tiny Gulf state. The Qatari emir's arrival in the kingdom’s ancient desert city of Al-Ula on Tuesday was broadcast live on Saudi TV. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
In this photo provided by the Saudi Royal Court, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, welcomes Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani upon his arrival to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council's 41st Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (Saudi Royal Court via AP)
Airplanes of Arab states are seen at Al Ula airport, Saudi Arabia, where leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet for a summit Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Kuwait's foreign ministry announced that Saudi Arabia will lift a years-long embargo on Qatar, opening its air and land borders in the first steps toward ending the Gulf crisis. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudis chat outside Al Ula airport, Saudi Arabia, where leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet for a summit Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Saudi Arabia will open its airspace and land border to Qatar in the first step toward ending a years-long diplomatic crisis that deeply divided U.S. defense partners, frayed societal ties and tore apart a traditionally clubby alliance of Gulf states, officials said late Monday. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
An aerial photo taken from airplane shows the mountains of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, where leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet for a summit Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Saudi Arabia will open its airspace and land border to Qatar in the first step toward ending a years-long diplomatic crisis that deeply divided U.S. defense partners, frayed societal ties and tore apart a traditionally clubby alliance of Gulf states, officials said late Monday. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
In this May 5, 2018 photo, a giant image of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, adorns a tower in Doha, Qatar. Kuwait’s foreign ministry announced Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 that Saudi Arabia will open its air and land borders with Qatar in the first steps toward ending a diplomatic crisis that has deeply divided regional U.S. allies since 2017. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2019, file photo, a Qatari flag flies in front of a banner showing Saudi King Salman with Arabic writing that reads, 'We pledge you to listen and obey' at a trade center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council 'GCC', 40th summit. Kuwait's foreign ministry on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, announced that Saudi Arabia will lift a years-long embargo on Qatar, opening its air and land borders in the first steps toward ending the Gulf crisis.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Saudi journalists watch a screen showing the meeting of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) taking place in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Qatar's ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend a high-level summit of Arab leaders, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its years long embargo on the tiny Gulf state. The Qatari emir's arrival in the kingdom's ancient desert city of Al-Ula on Tuesday was broadcast live on Saudi TV. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Journalists watch a large display screen in a press center, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center left, chairs the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Qatar's ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the high-level summit of Arab leaders, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its years long embargo on the tiny Gulf state. The Qatari emir's arrival in the kingdom's ancient desert city of Al-Ula on Tuesday was broadcast live on Saudi TV. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudi journalists watch a large display screen in a media center, showing Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Qatar’s ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the high-level summit of Arab leaders, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its yearslong embargo on the tiny Gulf state. The Qatari emir's arrival in the kingdom’s ancient desert city of Al-Ula on Tuesday was broadcast live on Saudi TV. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudi journalists watch a large display screen as Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrives at Al Ula airport, where the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting takes place in Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Qatar’s ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend a high-level summit of Arab leaders, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its yearslong embargo on the tiny Gulf state. The Qatari emir's arrival in the kingdom’s ancient desert city of Al-Ula on Tuesday was broadcast live on Saudi TV. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
PUBLISHED 7:55 AM ET Jan. 05, 2021PUBLISHED January 5, 2021 @7:55 AM

AL-ULA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Qatar’s ruling emir arrived in Saudi Arabia and was greeted with an embrace by its crown prince on Tuesday, following an announcement that the kingdom would end its yearslong embargo on the tiny Gulf Arab state.

The decision to open borders was the first major step toward ending the diplomatic crisis that has deeply divided U.S. defense partners, frayed societal ties and torn apart a traditionally clubby alliance of Arab states.

The arrival of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the kingdom's ancient desert city of Al-Ula was broadcast live on Saudi TV. He was seen disembarking from his plane and being greeted with a hug by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, though both wore face masks due to coronavirus precautions.

The emir is in Al-Ula for an annual summit of Gulf Arab leaders that is expected to produce a détente between Qatar and four Arab states that have boycotted the country and cut transport and diplomatic links with it since mid-2017 over Doha's support for Islamist groups and warm ties with Iran.

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The diplomatic breakthrough comes after a final push by the outgoing Trump administration and fellow Gulf state Kuwait to mediate an end to the crisis. It wasn’t until late Monday — on the eve of the summit and just ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing in — that the decision to end the spat was announced.

The timing was auspicious: Saudi Arabia may be seeking to both grant the Trump administration a final diplomatic win and remove stumbling blocs to building warm ties with the Biden administration, which is expected to take a firmer stance toward the kingdom.

It was unclear what, if any, significant concessions Qatar had made toward shifting its policies. The boycott largely failed to change Doha's regional posture, instead buoying Sheikh Tamim domestically as patriotic fervor swept through Qatar in support of his resolve.

The boycott also pushed Qatar closer to Saudi rivals Turkey and Iran, which rushed to support the ultra-wealthy Gulf state when it faced shortages in medical and food supplies in the first days of the embargo.

Qatar's only land border, which it relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods from Saudi Arabia, has been mostly closed since June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched their boycott of the small but influential Persian Gulf country.

While the Saudi decision to open its airspace, land and sea borders with Qatar marks a milestone toward resolving the dispute, the path toward full reconciliation is far from guaranteed. The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds.

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted late Monday that his country was keen to restore Gulf unity but cautioned: “We have more work to do.'

Tuesday's summit is expected to see some form of détente between Qatar and the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, in addition to a signing ceremony with Saudi Arabia. The meeting in Al-Ula would traditionally be chaired by Saudi King Salman, though his son and heir, the crown prince, may instead lead it.

The Qatari emir has only attended the Gulf Cooperation Council summit once — when it was hosted by Kuwait — since the boycott started. He sent an envoy to the following two summits, held in Saudi Arabia.

This year, Egypt's foreign minister is also attending the summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

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The Saudi move toward reconciliation comes just weeks after President Donald Trump's advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, visited the kingdom and Qatar to secure an end to the rift. Kushner has reportedly been invited to attend the signing ceremony in Al-Ula.

This is the first GCC summit since the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco announced in rapid succession they would normalize ties with Israel, marking a major shift in regional alliances. It is also the first since the longtime leaders of both Oman and Kuwait died, ushering in a new crop of hereditary rulers. The youngest royals at the summit, however, are Sheikh Tamim, 40, and Crown Prince Mohammed, 35.

Saudi Arabia's decision to end the embargo not only underscores the kingdom's assertion of its heavyweight position among Arab states, but also its regional leadership, which has been at times challenged by the UAE's unilateral and politically shrewd moves.

The kingdom is most concerned with countering Iran, while the UAE's top concern has been blunting any Islamist footprint in the region.

At heart have been shared concerns that Qatar's close relations with Turkey and Iran have undermined regional security. Egypt and the UAE view Qatar and Turkey's support of the Muslim Brotherhood as a security threat and have deemed the group a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are primarily concerned with Qatar's close ties with Iran.

Those simmering tensions came to a boil in the summer of 2017, when the four countries cut transport and diplomatic links with Qatar to pressure a change in its policies. The boycotting countries made a list of demands on Qatar that included shuttering its flagship Al-Jazeera news network and terminating Turkish military presence in Qatar, which is also home to a major U.S. military base. Qatar has outright rejected the demands, and has denied support of extremists.

State-linked media in the UAE and Qatar lobbed vicious attacks back and forth. The Qataris also alluded to the UAE being behind the hacking of its state-run news agency in 2017, while the UAE’s influential ambassador to Washington saw his emails subsequently hacked and leaked.

The boycott of Qatar had pitted regional U.S. allies against one another at a time when the Trump administration was working to pressure Iran. It also separated families who’d intermarried with Qataris and ended years of visa-free travel for Qataris in parts of the Gulf.

In a sign that hostilities continue to simmer, Qatar protested to the U.N. Security Council last month that Bahraini fighter jets “violated” Qatari airspace in early December. Bahrain, meanwhile, has accused Qatar's coast guard of arbitrarily detaining dozens of Bahraini fishing vessels.

The conflict in Libya is also a contentious issue, with Egypt and the UAE supporting militias fighting a Tripoli-based bloc backed by Turkey and Qatar.

___

Batrawy and DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

A Qatari investor follows the stock market activity but whose keeping an eye on demographics? Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Back in 1980, Qatar was a country of just 0.2 million people, making it one of the smallest in the world, and in terms of residents, 1/37th of what London is today. But things have rapidly changed, largely because of an explosion in immigration. Here are some of the numbers that show what happened.

Population size

Early on, Qatar's expansion was fast - it's population grew at a rate of 10.2% between 1980 and 1985. That rate slowed from 1990 to 1995 but leapt again in 2005 when Qatar's numbers climbed by 15.3% over the space of five years.

And although the rate of growth is expected to slow, Qatar's population is forecast to continue its growth over the next 40 years.

Baby boomers?

A quick look at the fertility of female Qataris shows that they're having far fewer children - on average, just 2.4 each compared to the 5.45 children per woman in 1980. The number of children dying before their 5th birthday has fallen - but not by enough to explain that growth.

So if it's not bigger families, what else is making Qatar grow?

Migration

The real answer lies in Qatar's migrant population, otherwise bluntly referred to in government statistics as 'non-Qataris'. In terms of rights, migrants might not be powerful - but in numbers they are.

'Qataris' in work: 71,076
'Non-Qataris' in work: 1,199,107

That means immigrants make up an astounding 94% of Qatar's workforce, and 70% of it's total population. The numbers are closely watched by Qatar's statistics authority whose motto is:

Statistics are the eyes of the policymakers. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

Emigration numbers are small - just 1,078 Qataris left in 2011, of whom 615 headed to Canada, 193 went to the US and 121 went to Germany.

Where are they coming from?

Surprisingly, those numbers are harder to find. Peoplemovin, which pulls together data from the World Bank estimates that in 2011, most migrants came from India and Pakistan.

What do they do?

Only a handful of those migrants make it into skilled jobs as the Qatari census data shows.

Man man man woman

Many of those migrants are men - which goes some way to explain why 3 out every 4 residents in Qatar is male.

The former emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, right, with his son and heir, Sheikh Tamim. Photograph: EPA

Age

The result has been a big impact on the age and gender of Qatar's population as these classic population pyramids demonstrate. They may be ugly but they do show how the ratio of men to women is likely to become more, not less problematic.

The top pyramid shows the age and gender of Qataris in 1950, then 2010 and the bottom chart shows expected demographics in 2050.

Each line, from top to bottom represents 4 years - so the bottom tier are those aged 0-4, the next is those aged 5-9 and so on, all the way up to 80+. Blue is males and purple is females.

So what do you see? The first chart shows that Qatar's demography was quite gender balanced back in the 1950s although it looks like no one made it past 50 years of age. By 2010, there's a bulge in the number of 25-35 year olds and far more men than women. In 40 years time, that's expected to become part of a much older population and one that is still predominantly male.

Urbanisation

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Unsurprisingly, those arriving in this tiny Gulf state, are not heading for its rural areas. The result has been a fast shift in the distribution of people over Qatar's 11,437 km2. In 1980, 10.6% of the population was in rural areas. Today, it's 4.2% and projected to fall yet further to just 2.5% by 2050.

Buildings going up in Qatar. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac

Government policy

What does the government think about all of this? Well, as far as the UN is concerned, their position is clear:

On population growth from 1976 until very recently, Qataris felt that growth was too low and needed to be raised. In 2009, it deemed population growth 'satisfactory' and sought to maintain it.
On age Never deemed an issue before, the size of the working age population has been flagged as a minor concern and the general aging of the population as a major concern. Which is the main reason why in 2009 it advocated policies aimed at increasing national fertility rates.
On urbanisation Where once this was satisfactory, it's now 'too high' and they are seeking to actively lower the frequency of moves away from rural areas.
On immigration They might still hold no policy on emigration but when it comes to immigration, Qatar's emirs have made it clear that it is too high and should no longer be maintained at its current levels.

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Population is such a key issue for the future of the country, that in 2009, the government set out specific policies in a 50-page pdf. It's not yet clear whether they will be able to resolve the country's deep-rooted tension between its need for, and lack of rights for, its migrant population.

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