“During the course of his life, a man is required to be reborn several times, and all the help he gets comes from chance and error.”
I recently visited the Arab Middle East for five weeks (the 7-hour time difference actually made it easier to trade my hedge fund with fewer distractions than at home). My travels took me to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar, countries that are far different on the ground than they are portrayed on American television. It is a land of sharp contrasts, exotic tastes and smells, warm and welcoming people, and a rich and ancient culture that teaches reverence for God and respect for men and women.
The region is economically strong and focused on attracting capital for investment with a particular emphasis on diversifying away from fossil fuels. I can report that the GCC blockade of Qatar is quite real. I left a suit hanging in a hotel in Riyadh and the hotel refused to send it to me in Doha. The blockade made Qatar much stronger because the country was forced to find alternative sources of food and other goods to substitute for Saudi and other GCC goods. Qatar has taken the high road and continues to open its borders to the citizens of blockade nations as well as accept them for medical treatment while its own citizens are not being treated reciprocally. Qatar is open for business and booming.
The blockade backfired on Saudi Arabia strategically by pushing Qatar closer to Iran, which is obviously hostile to the Saudis and America. Qatar shares its major gas field with Iran and always maintains commercial ties with that country as a result, but prior to the blockade the country did not have formal diplomatic relations with Iran. When faced with the blockade, Qatar was forced to turn to Iran and Turkey for support after the United States initially sided with the Saudis. Closer Qatar-Iran ties are damaging to the Saudis’ (and Americans’) goal of isolating Iran. And on a broader global stage, they are antithetical to America’s goal of countering Russian and Chinese influence in the region and the world. President Trump’s initial reaction to the blockade in which he sided with Saudi Arabia against Qatar was a serious blunder that took time to correct; it inflicted unnecessary damage...