Blockade stirs defiance, patriotism in Qatar residents
July 06 2017 11:23 PM
Qatar
Motorists write messages in support of Qatar on a portrait of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. PICTURE:Joey Aguilar

Reuters/Doha

A month of sanctions imposed on Qatar by Egypt and Arab neighbours that have cut ties and accused Doha of supporting militants has galvanised patriotic feelings among the country's residents, notably the citizens.
At dusk, young Qataris gather outside the house of a prominent citizen in Doha to sign a portrait of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, mounted on a giant billboard.
While Doha denies the charges and there are no signs the standoff will spiral into military confrontation, the crisis has bolstered nationalist support for His Highness Sheikh Tamim.
"We will go to the streets and fight for him [Sheikh Tamim]," said Ahmed al-Kuwari, a 32-year-old engineer.
Local media say that hundreds of men are signing up for the military, as others deliver jibes at Arab rulers on social media and rail against "fake news" they say some Arab media outlets are spreading to divide them.
After an announcement on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates that their boycott of the Gulf Arab state would continue, playful Qataris shared on Twitter photoshopped images ridiculing officials from those countries. 
Thousands of Qataris are cut off from relatives as well as properties they own in the UAE and Bahrain after the four Arab states announced the boycott and severed land, sea and air links.
Amira, a Moroccan curator at a Doha fashion house that imports designs from the UAE, says the dispute is affecting the decisions of her customers.
"People are starting to ask where the fabrics come from," she said. "Last week a Qatari woman found out a dress was from the UAE. She said 'get it away from me'."
There is broad support for Sheikh Tamim among young people who associate their wealth with his family's rule.
Officials from the four countries have also ruled out any plans to try to change the ruler or use force in the crisis.
Haya, a local student at Doha's Georgetown university said the Emir has legitimacy. "He has treated people with equality."
But some people fear enmity between Gulf states could linger on, she said.



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