Twitter users in the Middle East have mocked the editor-in-chief of a Saudi newspaper after he suggested Qataris would struggle to adjust to Turkish and Iranian food following a blockade imposed on Doha.
During an interview on the Saudi-owned TV channel Al-Arabiya, Jamil al-Ziabi, the editor of Okaz, said Qataris would cave in to their neighbours’ demands as “Qatari stomachs would not be able to get used to Turkish and Iranian products”.
“I am really worried because I don’t believe Qatari stomachs can get used to such products so quickly,” Ziabi said.
In the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain cut all ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea embargo against it last Monday, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar, which relies heavily on food imports, denies the charges.
The moves raised fears of a food crisis in Qatar as most of its supplies come from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Within 24 hours of the ban, Turkey sent cargo planes full of milk, yoghurt and poultry to circumvent the potential for any food shortages during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iran has also sent several planes with food, including fruit and vegetables.
Hundreds of social media users took to Twitter to poke fun at Ziabi’s comments, with the Arabic hashtag #QatariStomach the number-one trending topic in Qatar.
Here are some of the reactions:
Nouf almannai joked: “Turkish milk is poisoning your stomach.’
Twitter user @Shwa5i_87 joked: “Qataris be like.”
Qataries be like pic.twitter.com/0hg6FKSTo0
— Shaikha Al Mudahka (@Shwa5i_87) June 12, 2017
Mohammed Makki said: “I want to laugh, but the Turkish suhoor I had last night is giving my spoiled sensitive Qatar stomach groans.”
I want to laugh, but the Turkish suhoor I had last night is giving my spoiled sensitive Qatar stomach groans
— Mohammed Makki (@Makks) June 12, 2017
Shaikha Qatariya wrote on Twitter: “This is my situation after drinking Turkish milk”
— شيخة بورشيد 🇶🇦❤️ (@burshaid) June 12, 2017
Meanwhile, Sumeyye wrote: “Here is the solution: Turkish soda/sparkling water is great for stomach issues.”
— Sümeyye (@Naleena_) June 12, 2017
Since last Monday’s ban, showing sympathy with Qatar on social media is a criminal offence in the UAE and Bahrain, punishable with up to 15 years in prison.