DOHA: Following the diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, Qataris rushed to supermarkets this morning to stock up on food items as Saudi Arabia closed the country’s only land border.
Gulf states Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Egypt on Monday cut ties with Qatar over accusations it supports extremism, in an unprecedented regional crisis.
“Customers could be seen piling their carts high with supplies of milk, water, rice and eggs at several popular grocery stores today, which were even busier than is usual for Ramadan,” Doha News reported.
“I’ve never seen anything like it – people have trolleys full of food and water,” one long-time resident who asked not to be named told the newspaper while at Carrefour in Villaggio mall.
Photographs of empty chiller shelves have already been circulating on social media sites, as residents reportedly cleared out stores of chicken and other fresh and frozen meat in some shops, the report added.
However, Qatar’s foreign affairs ministry insisted in a statement that the border closing would not impact normal life in the country for citizens and residents.
It added that the Qatari government will “take all the necessary measures to make certain of that and to thwart attempts to negatively affect Qatari society and economy.”
As a peninsula that neighbors Saudi Arabia, Qatar relies heavily on its only land border to access food, as well as raw materials for its numerous mega infrastructure projects.
The measures taken by the Gulf states against Qatar are the following:
– Immediately cutting diplomatic ties with Doha, with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates ordering Qatari diplomats to leave within 48 hours.
This is a first since 2014, when Gulf countries recalled their ambassadors from Doha, ostensibly over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
– Closing air space and maritime territories in the three countries to Qatari flights and shipments, and suspending air and sea links with Doha within 24 hours.
UAE carriers Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia, as well as Saudi Airlines, have said they will halt flights to and from Doha starting from Tuesday morning.
– The three Gulf states have banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar.
– Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also ordered Qatari citizens — visitors and residents — to leave within 14 days.