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Update: UAE embargo in relation to Qatar

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There seems to be confusion in the press regarding the UAE embargo in relation to Qatar. In particular, the confusion seems to center around the question of whether the UAE now permits shipment of Qatari cargo to the UAE and vice versa.

The reasons for the confusion stem from direction No. 02/2019 issued by Abu Dhabi ports on 12 February 2019 which states that:

1.  Abu Dhabi Ports are not accepting vessels with Qatari flags or owned by Qatari shipping companies or Qatari nationals, excluding emergencies and rescue operations related to safety of life at sea.

2.  UAE flag vessels are not allowed to call any Qatari ports.

DP World, administrator of Dubai ports, issued a circular in similar terms.

These circulars replace earlier circulars which have previously referred to a prohibition on shipping cargo of Qatari origin to the UAE and vice versa.

Given the lack of reference to whether such trade was/was not permitted, speculation has grown as to whether the shipments of cargo between UAE and Qatar are now permitted.

Readers will recall that the UAE Federal Transport Authority (“FTA”) issued a circular on 11 June 2017 to all UAE ports which contained the following restrictions:

>  Receive any Qatari flagged vessels or Qatari owned vessels;

>  Load or Discharge any cargo of Qatari origin;

>  Load UAE cargo to Qatar.

The FTA circular has not been cancelled or amended. On 21 February 2019, the FTA has also been reported in the press to issue a statement clarifying that the embargo on circulation of cargo between UAE and Qatar remains in place and that FTA will issue an official clarification in the next few days. This is still awaited at the time of writing.

In the circumstances, it would be prudent to proceed on the basis that there have been no changes to the UAE embargo regime in relation to Qatar. We will continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates in case this information should change.

Rania Tadros

Rania Tadros Managing Partner

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