Use of politeness in the Qatari Emir's speech: Between conflict and reconciliation

Muhammad Fauzi, Abdul Muta'ali

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Following the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, Qatar's diplomatic relations crisis which has occurred since 2017 increases the number of events that illustrate political developments in the Middle East. The crisis began on June 5, 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt announced the termination of diplomatic relations with Qatar, closing their land, water and air lines for Qatar, and expelling all Qatari residents living in the four countries. This event was quite shocking to the world, considering that Qatar is the closest neighbor to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain; in fact, the four countries are still members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This crisis of diplomatic relations occurred because Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt accused Qatar of providing support to terrorist movements in the Middle East and intervening in their internal affairs. Thus, on July 21, 2017, the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Ali Tsani delivered a speech in response to the actions of the four neighbors. The aim is to make a refusal and defense regarding accusations directed against Qatar. However, even though Qatar's position was under pressure, the Qatari Emir (monarch and head of state of Qatar) continued to use polite language in delivering his speech. According to (Culpeper, Haugh, and Kadar, 2017, p. 2) politeness is how to use strategies in communicating to maintain good relations and avoid potential conflicts. The potential conflict, according to Brown and Levinson, can result from speech acts in utterances (Brown and Levinson, 1987, p. 65). In the delivery of his speech, the Qatari Emir used speech acts to respond to the steps of the four neighboring countries and used language politeness as a way of delivering it, so that he may benefit from the response or substance of the delivered speech and avoid potential conflicts. Based on this, this study aims to analyze speech acts and language politeness in the Emir of Qatar's speech. This research uses descriptive-qualitative analysis method, which is important to identify the role and position of language use in the diplomatic process. The analyzed data is the text of Emir Qatari's speech in Arabic. Descriptive analysis was carried out by first classifying the Emir's speech forms based on the speech acts and politeness strategies used, then issuing words or sentences from the speech that specifically explain the background of the use of politeness. The issued words or sentences will be analyzed based on an interpretation which is related to the context of the crisis. Applying Searle's (1979) speech acts theory and Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness theory, this study reveals that in the Emir of Qatar's speech on July 21, 2017, speech acts tended to be used to express rejection of the allegations from four neighboring countries towards Qatar, as well as to convey criticism and insinuation. The use of politeness aims to maintain harmonious relations between countries. The use of politeness in his speech was motivated by external factors such as geography and economics. Surrounded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, Qatar's geographic location requires the Emir to maintain harmonious relations with the three countries, on which cooperation in various fields have existed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn Language, Education, Politics, and Identity
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-Linguistics Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781536193374
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Politeness
  • Qatari Emir
  • Speech act


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