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Qatar shoppers stock up as rift bites

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-07 07:37

DOHA - Shoppers in Doha were taking no chances on Monday despite Qatari officials reassuring residents there was no need to panic after Saudi Arabia imposed a de facto food blockade.

Qatar shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia, and relies heavily on food imports, much of it from Gulf countries.

Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

Multiple queues up to 25-people deep formed in Carrefour supermarket in Doha's City Center mall, one of the busiest shopping areas in the city, hours after several Arab states cut diplomatic ties with the emirate.

Shoppers piled trolleys and baskets high and shelves were stripped of essentials such as milk, rice and chicken.

Among the hundreds of shoppers desperately searching for staple goods was Azir, a Sri Lankan who went to the store when relatives called him from home after watching the news on television.

"I was asleep. My family phoned me and woke me up from Sri Lanka," he said, his trolley full of nappies for his 18-month-old child. "I came because of the crisis."

Qatar imports goods such as chicken from Saudi Arabia, and locals quickly took to social media on Monday to complain they would have to eat poultry from Oman instead.

Ernest, from Lebanon, said he knew he had to go shopping because others would rush to the shops.

"It's a cycle of panic and I needed to get pasta," he said, as he shopped with his young family - pushing not one but two trolleys.

The story was the same across town at one of the several Monoprix stores, where staff said it had been one of the busiest days at work they had known.

In the nearby Al-Meera supermarket, shoppers again packed the store, including Denis from Germany who was convinced that the crisis was just a temporary storm.

'Just a yellow card'

"This is just a yellow card," Denis said of the country due to host the 2022 World Cup.

"What can they do? It is one of the richest countries in the world."

To try to avoid widespread panic-buying, Qatar's government issued a statement claiming that shipping routes and airspace will remain open for imports.

One sector of the economy which could be badly hurt is exports, including goods such as machinery, electronic equipment or livestock transported by road to Saudi Arabia. According to the United Nations, Qatari exports to Saudi Arabia totaled $896 million in 2015.

Agence France-presse

Qatar shoppers stock up as rift bites

Shoppers stock up on supplies at a supermarket in Doha, Qatar, on Monday after Saudi Arabia closed its land border with the country.Doha News Via Associated Press

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