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Qatar’s dairy demand spurred by crisis

An ongoing crisis in the Gulf has forced an urgent airlift of 4,000 Holstein cows into Qatar to satisfy demand for fresh milk there.

Having been blocked by its Arab neighbours, Qatar is under pressure to ensure it has enough food and supplies while the situation continues. With this in mind a Qatari businessman is planning to airlift 4,000 Holstein dairy cows into the country which has been described as the biggest ever airlift of animals attempted.

Qatari businessman Moutaz Al Khayyat, who is chairman of Power International Holding, said it could take 60 flights to deliver the cows from the sellers in United States and Australia. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic, economic and transport tied with Qatar on 5 June, accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups. Up until that time Qatar sourced most of its dairy products for its over one million population from its neighbours including Saudi Arabia.

Al Khayyat, whose main business is in construction, has built up his agricultural business on a farm 31 miles north of Doha where the main focus was on milking sheep and producing meat. However, work was brought forward in light of the crisis to have a new unit ready for the dairy cows. Initial plans were to import the animals via sea travel but those plans were shelved due to the cut-off by Qatar’s neighbours.

It is anticipated that the cows will start milk production by the end of the month, two months ahead of the initial planned schedule in September. According to reports, shipping costs since the Gulf problem arose, have increased five-fold to around $8 million.

Turkey and Iran have been supplying dairy produce and other food supplies in the short term to help Qatar.

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