Qatar Navigation (Milaha), the Doha-based maritime and logistics group, has launched a direct shipping service between Qatar and Turkey amid a regional diplomatic crisis that has cut Doha cut off from three of its closest neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain
, along with Egypt, cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June over its alleged support for terrorism and Iran - charges Doha denies.
The four countries have banned Qatari vessels from docking at their ports, as well as flights to and from Doha.
Milaha said on Monday the Doha to Turkey's Izmir service would operate every 20 to 25 days with transit time of 11 days.
The service will use a vessel catered for temperature-controlled cargo and break-bulk cargo and with a capacity of over 5,000 tonnes, Milaha said.
The new, permanent route starts after Milaha operated two ad-hoc services in recent weeks, the company said.
Qatar has looked to deepen trade ties with Turkey and Iran, turning to the two countries to secure food and water supplies in the days after the dispute erupted.
Already this month, Milaha has announced a new shipping service to Kuwait
and the setting up of a trans-shipment hub in Oman.
Milaha's announcement on Tuesday also indicates it is making long-term arrangements to handle Qatar's trade without relying on Dubai's Jebel Ali, the region's main trans-shipment centre.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Susan Thomas)