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GCC Families Celebrate Eid Al-Adha After Blockade

  • Publish date: Tuesday، 12 July 2022
GCC Families Celebrate Eid Al-Adha After Blockade
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Some GCC nationals tell their stories about the holy festival and how the blockade affected their familial ties in unimaginable ways as they observe Eid Al-Adha this year.

On Saturday, June 9, Muslims throughout the Gulf celebrated the start of Eid Al-Adha.

While most families that live in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are traveling across borders to celebrate the festival, many people still reflect on how the holy occasion between 2017 and 2020 was polluted by bitterness.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed an illegitimate air, land, and sea blockade on Qatar on June 7, 2017.

Diplomatic contacts were severed, imports were halted, and citizens of all the affected nations bore the brunt of the political crisis as a result of the embargo.

Citizens of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates living in Qatar were allowed a one- to two-week grace period by their home nations to leave the country at the time it was under blockade. Numerous students, family members, and friends as well as employees of Qatari businesses were compelled to abruptly depart Qatar as a result of the relocation.

Students at universities in Qatar were forced to abruptly stop their studies and leave without knowing when they would be able to return.

No members of the blockading foursome were prevented from entering the country, remaining, or pursuing further studies by Doha.

The Al Ula Agreement, which effectively repaired diplomatic and commercial connections between Qatar and the blockading four, was signed on January 5, 2021, and this signaled a change in the situation for the GCC.

Some people in Qatar voiced their regret at not being able to spend one of Islam's most significant holidays with relatives and friends who were citizens or residents of the other parties to the conflict during those years of blockade.

What is the Muslim "Festival of Sacrifice" called Eid Al-Adha?

Amnesty International stated in a thorough statement published in 2017 that "the unexpected implementation of restrictions damaged thousands of families and individuals across the region who make up a tight-knit social fabric cutting across national borders."

In order to put a stop to the string of "arbitrary restrictions" on families, many of which were split apart as a result of the GCC conflict, the human rights organization had called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain to lift the blockade.

For the families scattered over the Persian Gulf, the diplomatic dispute took precedence over the hindrance of man-made borders.

Why did families have to be included in decisions made by authorities? Hassan, a resident of Qatar whose large family resides in Saudi Arabia, told Doha News.

"So close yet so far away" following the blockade

When asked about the morning of June 7, Hassan said that everyone in his immediate family, including himself, had been in shock and had been speechless for the first several hours of the day.

During the first few days of the event, his family's phone calls, and communication felt more close-knit because it was so charged by anxiety over the unprecedented and fear of the unknown. His family is split between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Hassan clung to his grandfather's assurance that "we'll meet again inshallah [God willing], this is just like two big brothers fighting," despite not knowing what the future contained for their families.

The letter from his grandfather was sent from Saudi Arabia, which borders Qatar.

Government political policies caused stress among the populace, which impacted family ties as well.

Blood links were not spared, and many people used their worries as a form of defense, with some family members who lived in either of the two countries supporting their own government.

"I vividly recall how occasionally, in WhatsApp group chats, certain cousins would send false information about Qatar, and we would either quarrel or leave the group. It greatly increased the tension between us.