A Qatari businessman predicts the country will become self-sufficient in dairy products in nine months as a cattle facility is fast coming up in the desert north of Doha.
Ramiz al-Khayat says “we’re working seven days a week” and the new dairy facility will be solution to the problem facing the country in the wake of a Gulf blockade.
The machines are working at the site to help Qatar master the Gulf crisis.
It is an ambitious project that al-Khayat, as vice president of the Baladna company, is responsible for.
The company already has more than 20,000 sheep and goats from which milk and dairy products are produced in a gleaming facility.
It also bottles dairy milk from cows.
But now, Baladna is building stalls to shelter 4,000 cows as soon as possible.
Around 1,000 are to be flown in from Germany, the rest from the United States and Australia.
Al-Khayat sounds defiant, and in fact such words are being heard over and again these days in Qatar.
A month ago, the Gulf neighbours of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates broke off all contact with Qatar and closed their borders.
Until now Qatar had imported about 80% of dairy products from Saudi Arabia.
But instead of Saudi products, for the time being dairy products from Turkey have filled the gaps.
If al-Khayat has his way, then the Turkish products should be just a temporary solution. “In nine months Qatar can be self-sufficient,” the businessman predicts.
Already, traders in Doha are dealing in domestic goods. “Yes to Qatari products” is a sign seen on the doors to many shops in the capital.
In any event, al-Khayat has thrown down the gauntlet to the competition from the neighbouring state.
Up until the blockade, the Saudis had swamped the market with cheap products. “But what they have lost, they are not going to win back,” he says.
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