Thousands greet Qatar's emir on return home

Doha (AFP) –


Thousands of Qataris lined the streets of central Doha Sunday to welcome back the emir as he returned from his first trip abroad during the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani travelled to Turkey, France, Germany and the US -- where he addressed the UN General Assembly -- his first overseas engagement since Qatar was isolated politically by neighbouring states.

The emir was greeted by crowds numbering in their thousands as his car, part of a large convoy, wound its way slowly through the capital, said an AFP correspondent on the spot.

People waved flags, danced on top of cars and children wore T-shirts depicting the ruler's face to show support for him.

Footage on social media showed him leaving his car to greet some well-wishers at one point.

Saud al-Abdullah, who was waiting to cheer the emir along with his wife and four children, said people had come voluntarily.

"It is a message of loyalty and support to our leadership," he told AFP.

"Qatar is a peaceful country and we do not want troubles with any country."

Foreigners were also in the crowds. Almost 90 percent of Qatar's population is made up of expatriates.

Qatar has been accused by Saudi Arabia and others of supporting extremism and fostering ties with Iran, charges which it denies.

The first leader Sheikh Tamim met on his trip was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 15, more than 100 days since the onset of the crisis.

That first meeting was also notable as Sheikh Tamim had been the first foreign leader to contact Erdogan during the July 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.