Latest Twitter war in the Gulf: 'Boycott Harrods'

Social media users call for a boycott against a Qatar-owned luxury department store in London amid diplomatic fallout.

    Harrods, the luxury department store in London, was sold to Qatar in 2010 [File: Reuters]
    Harrods, the luxury department store in London, was sold to Qatar in 2010 [File: Reuters]

    The latest Twitter war surrounding the Gulf diplomatic rift has combined geopolitics with consumerism, as social media users call for a boycott of London-based luxury department store Harrods, which was purchased by the state of Qatar in 2010.

    Hundreds of Twitter users are posting using the Arabic language hashtag "boycott Qatari Harrods" in an attempt to chip away at potential profits made by the Qatar-owned business. 

    The five-acre store - the largest in Europe - was sold seven years ago to Qatar Holdings, the state-owned investment fund.

    Qatar's investments in the United Kingdom amount to an estimated $44bn. The state owns Harrods, the Shard building - the UK's tallest skyscraper - and even has shares in London's Heathrow Airport.

    Since Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and a number of other countries in the region cut off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar on June 5, Twitter has become a popular battleground for users to voice their opinions on the Qatar-Gulf rift.


    "Anything our government boycotts, we have to boycott," wrote one Twitter user, referring to Saudi Arabia's blockade on Qatar. "This is our country and it deserves more."

    "Every dollar spent in Harrods is contributing to the deaths of innocent people," wrote Sultan Ali Rashed Lootah, an Emirati diplomat from Dubai, asking users to not "stand with the terrorist state, stand with us by boycotting Harrods".

    Qatar supporters were unfazed by Lootah's tweets and found the calls for boycott unreasonable, writing that it would not make a dent in the state's profits.

    "We own the world," responded Twitter user Nasser Khan. "Even if you go to the surface of the moon, you'll find a Qatari who owns a tea and karak shop." 

    Other users noted that Qatar has more investments in London than just Harrods.

    "Qatar has shares in Heathrow Airport, so don't even come to London at all," one user wrote.

    Qatar currently owns 20 percent of shares in London's Heathrow airport, and has plans to expand its investment.

    Altogether, the state aims to invest more than $6bn in the UK over the next three years.

    Twitter user Bani Khalid posted a graphic from Property Week, a UK real estate magazine, that shows Qatar's vast property ownership across London. 

    For some, the call to boycott the famous department store had its advantages.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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