Qatar plans to airlift 4,000 dairy cows into the country as its socioeconomic crisis threatens food supplies

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A Qatar Airways plane is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar June 12, 2017.
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Reuters / Naseem Zeitoon

A businessman in Qatar plans to airlift 4,000 dairy cows into the isolated country as it continues to suffer the disastrous effects of a blockade by its Middle Eastern neighbours.

Qatari businessman Moutaz Al Khayyat told Bloomberg on Monday that it will take up to 60 flights to fly in the bovine beasts, which he bought in Australia and the US.

The cows will meet the demand for fresh milk and dairy primarily in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

The tiny, oil-rich Gulf state was plunged into a socioeconomic crisis early in June after neighbouring Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates blockaded the country, which they accused of supporting Islamist terrorist groups.

Qatar is a huge import country, especially for perishable goods (mainly food). Qatar imports mainly from the US and Germany but also from Saudi Arabia. Most of the dairy supplied to Doha previously came from Saudi Arabia.

When the ties were severed, people in Qatar started panicking that the country could run out of food. Qatari authorities had to stop people from raiding supermarkets. Companies have had to find alternative routes to get goods in and out of Qatar because it normally imports food through its land link with Saudi Arabia.

So while Qatar can still buy perishables from the US, for example, it is experiencing difficulty physically getting the goods to the country.

Dubai, part of the UAE, is also massively important for the import and export of goods because of its huge port Jebel Ali.