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All photos courtesy of Baladna on Facebook

Moooove over, Turkish milk.

The second batch of a planned 4,000 cows has arrived in Qatar this weekend, local dairy farm Baladna has announced.

The Holsteins are expected to provide much-needed relief to Qatar’s existing dairy farms, which have been overworked since the Gulf dispute began last month.

Up until the boycott, Saudi Arabia met most of Qatar’s fresh dairy needs.

But once the nation closed its borders, authorities had to quickly arrange to bring in milk and yogurt from Turkey and other countries.

Big plans

A local businessman has since announced plans to spend $8 million on importing cows to help shore up the country’s own supply of the products.

Last month, Moutaz Al Khayyat, chairman of Power International Holding, said the cows will be flown in on as many as 60 Qatar Airways flights, from Germany, Australia and the US.

So far, 330 cows have made the journey, and some have even already given birth to calfs.


Baladna cows

The animals’ milk is being processed at a farm some 50km north of Doha.

Al Khayyat said he eventually hopes his farm will meet one-third of Qatar’s demand for fresh dairy products.


Muhammed Salih/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

More than 80 percent of Qatar’s farms are considered “unproductive,” but a government-owned company is hoping to change that through a new initiative.

This week, Hassad Food announced the launch of Iktefa’ (sufficiency), a new plan to subsidize Qatari farms to help them bring “high quality products to the local market.”

Penny Yi Wang/Flickr

Farmer’s Market

Hassad said that under the initiative, it will:

  • Purchase the annual yield of local farms and resell them to the Qatar market;
  • Provide technical supervision and logistical support to farms; and
  • Develop feasibility studies for farms seeking financial support to build greenhouses.

Local farms are being invited to work with Hassad as it seeks to buy up to 5,000 tons of fresh produce a year initially.

In a statement, Hassad’s CEO Mohamed AlSadah said “We hope that through this important initiative, (we) will build bridges of cooperation with local farmers.”

Food security

Food security has been a growing concern for import-dependent Qatar.

The issue has taken on renewed importance this summer since the Gulf dispute began and the country lost some of its key food imports.

Hassad Food

Zulal Oasis

Hassad Food has long been working to shore up Qatar’s food supply. It has also been involved in getting the country food during this recent crisis.

It was established in 2008 and is a subsidiary of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

In addition to investing in local agriculture, Hassad has food-related projects in Australia, Pakistan and Oman.

According to its website, it is also eying future investments in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.



Vodafone tech support

As Vodafone Qatar customers find themselves without service for a second day, the company’s CEO has spoken out, pleading for patience and apologizing for the disruption.

Shedding a bit more light on what happened, Ian Gray said a network upgrade went wrong on Monday.

“Yes we have a backup, but unfortunately the backup went wrong as well,” he added.

Currently, Vodafone Qatar is collaborating with people from around the world to fix the problem, and is also flying in parts to help restore the network, Gray said.

No timeline

However, he did not specify when service would actually return.

“Everything is happening as quickly as it possibly can,” he said, apologizing for the “aggravation and frustration” customers must be feeling and hinting at compensation.

“We will be doing something about that, but the first focus has to be to get this fixed, get everything up and running and give you the service that we want to give you – the service that you deserve.”

In a statement, Vodafone pledged to announce a compensation plan “within 24 hours of service restoration.”

After going down early Monday morning, Vodafone was able to partially restore 2G services last night.

But customers today continued to complain about not being able to make phone calls or access the internet via Vodafone.

This is the worst outage the provider has seen since it entered Qatar’s market in 2009, ending Ooredoo’s monopoly.

Vodafone has been given until Thursday to report to the country’s telecom regulator about what happened. It must also present a plan to prevent such disruptions in the future.