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Months into a dispute that has seen Doha cut off from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Qatar’s emir said Tuesday his country was “a thousand times better off” without them.

In a speech to the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said his government had nonetheless put in place contingency plans as he expected the bitter political dispute with his neighbours and former allies to drag on.

“We do not fear the boycott of these countries against us, we are a thousand times better off without them,” the emir told members of the council and foreign dignitaries in Doha.

“But vigilance is required,” he added.

Sheikh Tamim nonetheless said his government was working on “introducing a number of food security projects” and had “given special attention to water security” as it looked to a future without its former Arab allies.

Iran, Turkey and most recently Spain have stepped in to help Qatar secure food imports amid a boycott by four Arab states.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June announced they had severed ties with Qatar, sealing off the emirate’s only land border in the wide-ranging boycott.

They accuse Qatar’s government of supporting Islamist extremism and fostering close ties with Iran.

Qatar denies the charges, claiming the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty.

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