Update: Navigating the Diplomatic Crisis in Qatar

Published: 19 July 2018
Benoit Meyer

In June of 2017, a crisis began in Qatar when several countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates [UAE], Bahrain and Egypt) cut off diplomatic relations and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the country. Additional countries withdrew diplomats or downgraded diplomatic relations. As mentioned in our previous report,which was posted at the onset of the crisis, the situation promoted significant group move activity for companies with employees in the region, as assignees were forced to repatriate from Qatar. The following update summarises the current status of the crisis.

Diplomatic Crisis in Qatar: Current Status


At this time, Qatar remains under embargo, with no access by air, sea or land to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain or Egypt. While access is available via other countries, travellers should be aware that they will encounter lengthy immigration processes in UAE if they reside in Qatar. There have been some reports of individuals being denied entrance into UAE despite the illegality of such actions. Travellers are encouraged to contact their respective embassies should they encounter an issue.

Household Goods Shipments

The shipment of household goods continues to be affected by transit bans into and out of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt. These shipments are currently illegal and, therefore, impossible to facilitate at this time. While some companies are offering to ship to or from the above mentioned areas via a third country (such as Oman and Sri Lanka) assignees should be aware that these offers are illegal. Furthermore, the attempt to utilise this approach comes with possible sanctions, such as:

  • Confiscation/destruction of the container(s)
  • Significant penalties/fines
  • Jail time for the employee or moving services provider
  • Termination of the employee’s company trademark or that of the moving services provider

Alternate options for individuals leaving Qatar include:

  • Utilising a storage facility in Qatar (individuals should be aware that there is currently no assurance regarding the end of the embargo, which means there is also no guarantee of a retrieval date)
  • Selling household goods before departure and leaving the country with only clothing and necessities
  • Sending household goods to one’s home country (provided it is a country outside of those enforcing the embargo) or to a trusted contact for long-term storage (understanding that this option will generate taxes and duties)


In our previous report, we discussed a concern regarding food and essential item shortages, given Qatar’s heavy reliance on imports. While the embargo has caused the country to rethink its solutions for the importation of all products (from consumer to commercial- and construction-related) creative solutions are being found by forming alliances with companies based in countries outside of those enforcing the embargo.

Support for Relocating Employees Affected by the Crisis

With no end to the embargo in sight, planning and communication continue to be fundamental to minimising stress during difficult relocation transitions. Employers should maintain up-to-date contingency plansbased on timely immigration alerts and reports and, when possible, enlist the help of a trusted provider, capable of managing international removals and relocation services during a crisis.

The benefits of enlisting the help of a qualified relocation services provider include:

  1. Access to an accredited, reputable international removals network: During a time of uncertainty and anxiety, professional global removal specialists offer speed and expertise. Put simply, they are in the best position to respond effectively and quickly to regional embargoes and deadlines – and to ensure a seamless transition to home or third countries – while backed by international services guarantees and financial surety.
  2. Dedicated move coordinators and account managers: Utilising knowledgeable professionals during a time of crisis drastically improves the chances of a successful relocation and ensures the highest level of communication between all involved parties. Additionally, HR teams are given additional capacity to support employees and focus on business continuity as circumstances evolve.
  3. Secure technology to enhance the removal process: Qualified relocation management companies with client-focused global networks have access to technology that best supports responsive, end-to-end global services. This translates to faster household goods inventories, timely status reviews and strong customer service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  4. Access to a full range of removal and relocation services: A qualified global relocation management company provides a wealth of services that support international removals that must happen on short notice, including utilities disconnection, lease management, home- and school-finding services, orientation and settling in services, and tenancy and property management.

Everyone Benefits When International Removals are Handled Efficiently

In times of international crisis, having a well-structured plan and access to a global network of services is crucial to enacting an efficient removal. In addition to providing relocating employees with the best possible options during a stressful situation, it also provides cost-effective solutions to the companies that employ them.

As mentioned in our first report on this issue, the financial efficiency of professionally handled group moves increases when the avoidance of delays to winding up tenancy contracts, extending rental periods due to mishandled removals and their associated additional costs are factored in. These can add up to 300% of the total relocation bill. Well planned group moves, regardless of the circumstances, provide all parties with greater knowledge, peace of mind and security when supported by dedicated and attentive teams that have been trained to handle the circumstances of each unique relocation.

For more information about how SIRVA can assist you with your relocation – in Qatar or anywhere in the world – contact us at: +974 4016 6222 or