The crisis in Qatar: Suddenly there was no more milk in the world’s richest country

How Qatar overcame and faced the blockade

NATIONAL TREASURE: With 14,000 cows in Baladna Farm in north of Doha, Qatar will be self-sufficient in milk and dairy products.
PHOTO BY: Ingeborg Huse Amundsen/Verdens Gang

CRISIS IN QATAR: “The crisis had a huge impact and was the best thing that could have happened to Qatar. It has opened up new business opportunities,” said John DORE, Managing Director at Baladna Farm.
PHOTO BY: Ingeborg Huse Amundsen/Verdens Gang

OPTIMIST EXPECTATION: Yousuf Mohamed AL-JAIDA, Chief c, believes that Doha will be able to replace Dubai as the region’s trading hub.
PHOTO BY: Ingeborg Huse Amundsen/Verdens Gang

AT THE BARN: The cows are milked on a rotary machine before returning to the barn. The milk is produced as drinking milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese.
PHOTO BY: Ingeborg Huse Amundsen/Verdens Gang

Al Khor (VG): About 90 percent of all foods were imported into Qatar, when the neighboring countries closed the border and forced the blockade, John DORE (58 years old) took action.

John DORE represented a strange sight wearing a straw hat and pale pink shirt in the farm located in the middle of the barren desert, 60 kilometers north of the skyscrapers in the city of Doha.
Behind him, 100 cows rotate around a giant milking machine. They are in the ring for eight minutes before they get a break.
Before June 5th, the Arab Empire State of Qatar was dependent on its neighboring countries to get milk and bread on the table. About 90 percent of all foods were imported; milk, meat, chicken, eggs, bread, everything exported from abroad.

Background: that is the reason why Qatar is facing a crisis.
As a result, panic arose when Saudi Arabia closed Qatar’s only land border, and the neighbors of United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt blocked the country at sea and in the air after accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups and the irritation from the country’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s arch enemy, Iran.
More than 2.5 million inhabitants in Qatar’s ran to the stores for provision and supply.
– It was complete chaos. All the milk disappeared, says John Joseph DORE, a great farmer and businessman from Ireland who has lived in the Middle East for a number of years.

Making Qatar a self-sufficient country
It was in this chaos that Dore saw an opportunity:

– I would show Saudi Arabia that we can manage without their milk. So I brought in the best of milk technology and imported milk cows from Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands.

When VG visits the farm there it’s “only” 35 degrees. Almost like winter to rain here, compared to when the cows came in July with the 50 degrees. By providing air conditioning and cold water liters into the farm, the desert became habitable to the western animals.

Today, 2500 cows at the Baladna farm, which Dore manages and produces 100 tons of milk daily. During November, 4000 cows will fly in from the United States, and by April 10,000 will arrived by sea.

– When all the cows are inside the country, Qatar will be self-sufficient on milk. Then we will not need the Saudis anymore. Being self-sufficient is a sign of national sovereignty, as Dore believes.

Relationship with Iran
Even though nationalism and independence in Qatar increased as a result of the blockade, the country has looked around for new alliances.

– Turkey has been a great support and was the first country to help us after the blockade. Our relationship with Kuwait and Oman has also strengthened. In addition, we are looking at Iran, which we believe is a very interesting player, “said Yousuf Mohamed AL-JAIDA, CEO of Qatar Finance Center (QFC).

VG met with the CEO at the top of a skyscraper in the West Bay at the Finance Center in Doha. QFC tries to strengthen Qatar’s economy away from oil and gas, and to pull white-collar workers and foreign investors to invest in Qatar.

AL-JAIDA tells VG how well the Qatar crisis has been for Qatar:

– The crisis is good for us. The reforms we see now would never have happened: 80 countries have been granted visa-free entry to Qatar, we have opened up for foreign investment like never before, minimum wages shall be augmented and permanent residence permits for migrants shall be made easier. The crisis has created a better, more open, liberal and pragmatic Qatar, he stated.
– The crisis has been a blessing, a good omen.

How to fight the blockade

It is not coincidental that the five-month blockade has earned the title of “Qatar crisis”. It has inflicted its biggest economic downturn since the financial crisis in 2008:

• The Gulf States have withdrawn from Qatar’s banks. As an emergency solution, Qatar authorities had to replace the $ 17 billion in deposit.
• Qatar experienced an 18% fall in the stock market, property prices have decreased as well as the number of tourists. As for the oil prices they have been fallen since a long time.
• 11,000 families and 7000 employees from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Emirates have left Qatar after being ordered by their authorities, according to QFC figures.
• The GCC, established in 1981 to ensure free flow of goods, capital and labor between Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain is facing its greatest crisis ever. It is a major problem if the Council holds its annual meeting in Kuwait in December.
• But, despite the crisis: Qatar is still the world’s richest country, in gross domestic product per capita (approximately 100,000 USD). The reason that Qatar is at the top is not only the oil industry, but the fact that almost 90% of the country’s inhabitants are immigrant workers from Asia, which are not necessarily included in the statistics. In other words: Extreme wealth is spread over extremely few.

This article was originally published on the following website: https://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/qatar/krisen-i-qatar-plutselig-var-det-tomt-for-melk-i-verdens-rikeste-land/a/24177122/
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