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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

‘Loyal to local’: Majority of Qatar residents to shun incoming GCC products


Questions regarding local preferences for various products have emerged in recent weeks, as GCC member states prepare to resume trade. 

Residents of Qatar have grown accustomed to local produce, with an overwhelming majority suggesting they would stick to products made at home despite the resumption of trade with neighbouring Gulf states.

According to an online poll conducted by Doha News, some 83% of participants showed a preference for Qatari products while just 17% said they would return to purchasing imports from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

This comes as products from the former blockading nations are expected to make a rapid return to Doha’s shelves after more than a three-year hiatus that came with the imposing of the blockade on Qatar.

At the time of the 2017 blockade, Qatar relied heavily on imported goods from the blockading states, prompting authorities in Doha to swiftly move to provide alternative products to its people. This led to an almost immediate increase in products from Turkey, Iran and China but more at home, Qatar began a self-sustainability drive to produce locally. 

On that note, some 60% of participants deemed the reintroduction of foreign products to be a “reward” for the quartet despite their previous years of harsh limitations on exporting to Qatar.

“With the completion of the Gulf reconciliation, our national products will face great challenges and competition….so I will commit to buying national products…in order to support the youth and the Qatari economy, in order not to lose what we gained during the years of the siege,” one Twitter user said.

This a sentiment seemingly shared with wary businessmen in Qatar who have served the population with essential products throughout the three-year crisis.

A CEO of one of Qatar’s dairy farms who requested anonymity told Doha News that although his company would like to do business in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it still remains hesitant to expand its operations.

Read also: The benefit of the Qatar blockade

“When the blockade was imposed in 2017 we saw lots of Qatari businesses forced to shut down by Emirati and Saudi officials. Even the biggest companies like Qatar Airways weren’t protected. Businesses lost lots of money and still haven’t been compensated” he told Doha News.

In a recent tweet, Qatar’s former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani said that the post-reconciliation focus must shift towards economic investments, as the GCC and Egypt have “promising opportunities”.

“But the matter needs appropriate legal legislation to fortify investments to protect them from any hurdles, which happened when some countries boycotted Qatar,” he added.

Locally, residents that have grown an attachment to homegrown products believe Qatar should begin exporting its goods, but an overwhelming majority urged the government to protect local businesses.

When asked, 87% of participants said they would encourage Doha-based brands to shift their efforts towards exporting their products to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

A whopping 97% said the government should subsidise local companies to stand by Qatar-based businesses, especially after they helped boost the country’s economy for several years. 

Despite the concerns, the return of trade between Qatar and other GCC member states, as well as Egypt, has been received with optimism from global market and trade experts.

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