Despite Qatar being under a Saudi-led siege, the Crown Prince offered rare praise of his Arab neighbor in light of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The pressure is mounting on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, so much so that the ruler has altered his stance toward Qatar, a country he blockaded in 2017.

In a rare conciliatory remark, the ruler praised Qatar’s economy during an investment forum and predicted that it would do well over the coming years.

“Qatar, despite the differences we have, has a great economy and they will be doing a lot in the next five years,” the Saudi leader stated during the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Wednesday.

According to Al Jazeera, the comments were made during a segment about economic potential in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.

The prince also claimed the “new Europe would be here in the Middle East”, alluding to the region’s economic promise.

However, critics have noted the timing of his praise of Qatar, following a tough month after it was revealed Saudi Arabia murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The crown prince said the Khashoggi case was “painful” and “justice will prevail”.

Calling Khashoggi’s murder a “heinous crime that cannot be justified”, he said all culprits will be punished, and promised Saudi Arabia and Turkey will work together “to reach results”.

The prince said the killing of the journalist will not “drive a wedge” between the kingdom and Turkey.

“We will cooperate with Turkey to discover the truth behind Khashoggi’s killing,” he added.

However, critics claim it’s too little too late in light of the evidence that’s surfaced surrounding the case, which includes implicating the prince himself in the debacle.

Experts believe that if the prince were to curry favour with the West over the blockade of Qatar – a move which most of the world disagrees with – then it could help build better relations with super powers around the globe. Could it be the first step toward ending the Saudi-led siege on Qatar?

The crown prince is one of the key figures behind a land, sea, and air blockade of Qatar, along with the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

As a result of the blockade, Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia was closed off, and the blockading countries shut off airspace to traffic entering and leaving the country. Despite the siege, Qatar has weathered the storm and created a successful homegrown economy based on self-sufficiency.

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Author

Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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