The plan to destabilise and isolate the tiny but wealthy Qatar has backfired and has set the stage for the 33-year-old emir to emerge as a hero.
The standoff has entered the second month and there are no signs of peace as of now. The quartet accuse Qatar of funding Sunni extremism and used it to block Qatar in a hope to isolate the Qatar. However, it has acted as blessing in disguise for the emir as the situation has helped him to build a cult status.
Abdulrahman al-Kuwari, 27, a student who was visiting an exhibition of hagiographic works in the royal family’s honour by the local artist Ahmed al-Maadheed, said: “This has made me realise we should all support our country more.”
The exhibition is called Tamim the Glorious. Qatar’s two main telecom companies have changed their official network name to “Tamim al-Majd” — Tamim the Glorious.
There is no escape from the image of emir, whose face stares down from office blocks. It is always the same picture, a screenprint by Maadheed of the emir’s face in profile.
The emir ignored the list of demands given by the blockading countries and stood by his decision in spite of pressure.
“It’s a stalemate,” Sheikh Saif al- Thani, a relative of the emir and the government’s director of communications, said. “I don’t think they [the quartet] agree among themselves how to get out of this problem. I think they thought it would end in a few days.”
The British-educated leader has emerged from the shadow of his father and having a broad minded leader in the helm has definitely helped Qatar globally.
The west which ignored the crisis initially has now started to broker peace between the two parties and end the crisis. Last week James Mattis, the US defence secretary, publicly renewed America’s security relationship with Qatar — a clear warning against any form of direct action against it.
At the weekend, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with Kuwait, which is mediating. He called for a de-escalation. “My impression is progress can be made and there is a way forward,” he said. “We think the blockade was unwelcome.”
Sources close to the emir say that he is confident of pulling it off and also cleared that the former emir is fully retired and playing no part in running the country. They also said that the emir was more concerned about domestic and not international.
One Saudi source said that there was no likelihood of internal revolt against the emir’s rule. “But Qatar’s journey of being an oversized regional and international player will come to an end,” the source said.
Qataris don’t have more democratic rights than residents of other Gulf States and yet they have shown their support to the emir.
The picture, showing the emir gazing heroically into the distance, started as a social media avatar then went viral.
“We love you Tamim,” says one scrawl on the picture at the entrance to an exhibition of Maadheed’s royal portraits. “May Allah protect Qatar and guide it well, oh Glorious Tamim,” says another. Some have hearts and scrawled self-portraits added to them.
At the site of one giant poster in a Doha suburb, a cherry-picker was commandeered to take people to the top to add their tributes.
“Others have the world, we have Tamim,” one admirer said.