An escalated dispute between Gulf powers United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other allies on one side, and Qatar on the other side over claims of supporting extremism and terrorism has caused major waves in the region. This led to the stopping of flights between countries and the forcing nationals to move out of the country that is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The airline of Qatar, Qatar Airways, has been the sponsor of Barcelona since 2013 and before that it was Qatar Foundation since 2011. The financial muscle of the small state attracted the Catalan club to their riches. In 2016, a 4-year deal was announced by Barcelona with Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company, replacing Qatar Airways on the kits as from the start of the 2017-18 season. For travelers planning to visit one of these countries in the coming months, a word of warning: being spotted in the United Arab Emirates wearing a Barcelona shirt with reference to Qatar (Qatar Airways or Qatar Foundation) will lead to a £110,000 fine or a 15 year jail term. It is yet unclear whether plans for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by Qatar will be affected.