Saudi Arabia and Bahrain today revoked the licences of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to close within 48 hours, state media reported, as a diplomatic crisis deepened. “The General Authority of Civil Aviation has decided to cancel all licences granted to Qatar Airways and to close all of its offices in the kingdom within 48 hours,” a statement carried by the official SPA news agency said. Bahrain’s BNA news agency carried a similar statement, suggesting “all passengers who purchased tickets to or from Qatar make arrangements with the airline’s offices for a refund within the next 48 hours or via the website” after that. Qatari share prices closed down 7.58 per cent yesterday after five Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen — announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with the gas-rich emirate over its alleged support for extremism. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced the suspension of all flights to and from Qatar as of this morning. Hours later, Qatar Airways, which flies to nine cities in Saudi Arabia alone, announced it had suspended all flights to Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
The Gulf states have also ordered Qataris to leave within 14 days and banned their own citizens from travelling to the emirate. Saudi Arabia has closed its border with Qatar, the emirate’s only land frontier, effectively blocking food imports and a segment of the country’s exports.