‘Voice of reason’: Arab tweeps welcome Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah as possible mediator to end rift with Doha

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims flock to the Grand Mosque in Makkah to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)
Updated 20 August 2017
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‘Voice of reason’: Arab tweeps welcome Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah as possible mediator to end rift with Doha

JEDDAH: Following a series of high-profile meetings with the Saudi leadership, which resulted in King Salman ordering the easing of border restrictions and offering to cover all costs for Qatari pilgrims who wish to embark on this year’s Hajj, the recently-launched Twitter account of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, a senior member of the Qatari royal family, became an instant hit among Arabs who voiced hope that he could achieve a full reconciliation between Doha and members of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
Last night, Sheikh Abdullah used his first Twitter post to thank King Salman for ensuring that Qatari pilgrims can take part in this year’s Hajj.
Sheikh Abdullah is regarded as an influential mediator, both in Saudi Arabia and by scores the region, given that he is a member of the Qatari royal family. His grandfather was the third ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassem Al-Thani, his father was the fourth ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al-Thani, and his brother was the fifth ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali Al-Thani.
Sheikh Abdullah also tweeted that he requested that King Salman establish a hotline for Qataris who wish to visit relatives in Saudi Arabia.
“The king, as usual, approved my request and ordered the allocation of a special operations room to handle Qatari affairs run by a Saudi crew under my supervision, in light of the severed ties (between the two countries).”
He went on to share the hotline number, saying: “The special operations room for (the) Qatari people — from pilgrims (to) visitors and business owners — (is) 00966122367999.”
He added: “I call on all my brothers in Qatar, and those in need, to contact the number and their matters will be solved, God willing.”
He later addressed rumors that Qatari currency would no longer be allowed in Saudi Arabia, saying: “I asked my brother, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), about the accuracy of the suspension of the Qatari Riyal exchange for Qatari citizens and (he) denied the news.”
Meanwhile, many other users suggested he is a “sheikh of wisdom, voice of reason and a mediator for good.”
Others, mainly media personalities linked to Doha, have been skeptical of Sheikh Abdullah’s efforts and sought to ridicule his role and say that he does not represent the Qatari people or government.
For his part, Sheikh Abdullah went on to explain the intentions behind his mediation efforts, saying that he is working for the benefit and comfort of the Qatari people.
“The descendant of the rulers came looking for the interests of the brotherly Qatari people after the politically-adolescent approach adopted by the government of Qatar,” said one Twitter user.
Earlier, the Saudi king approved a plan to re-open the Salwa border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also approved the dispatch of a private aircraft from Saudia’s fleet to Doha to fly Qatari pilgrims to Jeddah.
Qatari pilgrims were also allowed to pass through the border crossing for Hajj without electronic permits.
It has been nearly three months since the Anti-Terror Quartet severed ties with Doha over accusations of its support for terror and meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors. Many world leaders and top diplomats, including the emir of Kuwait, have tried mediating but none have been successful in ending the rift.


Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

Updated 31 min 44 sec ago
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Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

  • Former world No.1 without a Major victory in four years.
  • McIlroy looking to play carefree as he goes in search of second Claret Jug.

Rory McIlroy knows what he needs to do to win the Open this weekend: Play as if it does not matter and go for broke.
The world No. 8 has won four 
Majors but, by his high standards, is in a bit of a slump, having not got his hands on one of the four big titles since 2014. That win came at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, which came barely a month after his only Open victory at Royal Liverpool.
He tees it up at Carnoustie today with five top-fives this season, but only one win. However, with ever 
expectant fans and a game that when on song is better than anyone else’s there is expectation he can claim 
Major No.5 this weekend.
The Northern Irishman’s first Open came at Carnoustie 11 years ago and he is aiming to play the famous links in the same carefree attitude he did as a teenager, and hopes that lands him 
another Claret Jug.
“I do need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and I’m just happy to be here,” the 29-year-old said.
“(2007) was my first Open — I was just trying to soak everything in and I was just so grateful to be here. I think that’s a big part of it — if you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll be successful.
“As you get a little older, you get a little more cautious in life — it’s only natural. For me, it’s more about 
playing with the freedom and I don’t want to say being naive but there is something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff.
“When we last played The Open here, I was bouncing down the fairways and didn’t care if I shot 82 or 62 because I was just happy to be here. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play.”
For McIlroy that may well involve using the driver more than some of his rivals. The heatwave the UK has been experiencing has seen the fairways run firm and fast with many of his rivals such as Tiger Woods saying they will mostly hit irons off the tee. But for McIlroy the game plan will change from day to day.
“There’s not going to be one player in this field with a game plan on Wednesday night who will to stick to that the whole way around for 72 holes,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s just not going to happen with wind conditions, with pins. You start to feel a little bit more comfortable with a few shots, and you might start to take some on.
“It’s going to be really interesting, I think, because the golf course is playing so firm and fast, there’s some guys that will see it completely different to the way I see it and vice versa. It’s 
going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.’’