Bahrain fishermen return home from Qatar amid hope crisis will be over soon

July 1, 2010

Nine Bahrain-based fishermen who were released by Qatar last Thursday are now home in Bahrain amid a deluge of good wishes.

The seven Bahraini and two Asian men said that they could not leave Qatar because of the bad weather and that they were grateful to be home after an ordeal that last several weeks.

The fishermen said that they were arrested by Qatari coastguards for allegedly straying into Qatari waters.

According to the fishermen, only three Bahrainis remain in Qatar amid expectations that two of them would be able to sail back home today.

Only Adel Al Taweel, the 37-year-old fisherman who was shot in May by Qatari coastguards for allegedly ignoring their warnings after he strayed into Qatari waters, will have to wait until July 8 to know his fate.

His dramatic arrest sparked an outcry in Bahrain and fuelled a tense situation between the two neighbours caused by divergences over several issues, including the name of the Bahraini nominee to become the next secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Manama suggested Mohammad Al Mutawa, the cultural advisor to the prime minister, but Doha rejected him reportedly on the grounds of his statements as information minister during a bitter standoff between the two countries over a border dispute.

Although both countries accepted the verdict of the International Court of Justice in March 2001 and pledged to open a new chapter in their cooperation, some of their plans, including the construction of a 41-kilometre causeway, have not materialized.

Manama said in June that Doha was holding 107 Bahrain-based fishermen and asked for their prompt release, while the foreign minister called for new measures to regulate fishing within the GCC that would match opportunities offered to Gulf nationals on land.

The standoff was eased in mid-June following a phone call between the crown princes of both countries and a decision by Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani to release the detainees and their boats.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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