Qatar stock exchange drops as ultimatum deadline nears

AP PHOTO In this May 14, 2010 file photo, a Qatari woman walks in front of the city skyline in Doha, Qatar. Qatar likely faces a deadline this weekend to comply with a list of demands issued to it by Arab nations that have cut diplomatic ties to the energy-rich country, though its leaders already have dismissed the ultimatum.

DOHA, Qatar — Qatar’s stock exchange dropped Sunday as the tiny Gulf nation braced for a deadline to accept demands from four Arab countries in part over what they allege is its support for extremist groups.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut off ties with 2022 FIFA World Cup host Qatar in early June, restricting access to their airspace and ports and sealing Qatar’s only land border, which it shares with Saudi Arabia. They issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff June 22 and gave the natural gas-rich country 10 days to comply.

Qatar’s main QE stock index lost more than 3 percent when it reopened following a weeklong hiatus for the Eid al-Fitr holiday break — its first session since the demands were laid out. It eventually recovered some of its losses later in the trading session to close down 2.3 percent at 8,822.15.

The deadline is set to expire by day’s end, though the countries that issued the ultimatum did not provide a precise time or detail what immediate penalties, if any, Qatar will face.

Qatar has repeatedly denied charges it supports extremism and says the demands are an affront to its sovereignty.

“Qatar is not an easy country to be swallowed by anyone. We are ready. We stand ready to defend our country. I hope that we don’t come to a stage where, you know, a military intervention is made,” Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah told Sky News.

Qatari supermarkets saw panic buying when the four countries initially cut ties. But the capital, Doha, was largely calm Sunday as residents waited to see how the crisis would play out.