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Tuesday, 19 June 2018 11:43

Milk from the desert

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How long does it take a country to build a dairy industry? One year, Qatar would answer.

This tiny Middle East oil powerhouse faces an economic blockade by its neighbours. Until June last year, Qatar imported milk from Almarai, a Saudi conglomerate. Then Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states closed their borders to punish Qatar for supporting Islamist groups and Al Jazeera, a state-owned broadcaster that criticises all the Gulf monarchies except Qatar’s. Overnight the world’s richest country (measured by income per head at purchasing-power parity) was cut off from its food supplies. It first turned to Turkey and Iran. Shoppers got a crash course in Turkish: placards in the dairy aisle of supermarkets explained that ‘süt’ meant milk. Now a 14,000-cow farm in a desert is supplying milk and dairy products to the Qataris. The tiny kingdom will soon be self-sufficient in dairy products.

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