Gulf blockade boosts local Qatar industries

Crisis creates new opportunities of self-reliance for local companies that used to depend on imports from blockading states.

    While the blockade on Qatar by four Arab states has affected businesses, it has also created opportunities for the country.

    Qatar's industries relied heavily on imports, most of which used to come from its blockading neighbours, but since the crisis began two months ago, Doha has investigated how it can become more self-reliant and sustainable. 

    At Don Construction Products, for instance, the workload has doubled in the last few weeks as the company tries to step up its manufacturing of construction chemicals.

    The blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 has sped things up instead of slowing them down, Khashif Aijaz of Don Construction Products said.

    OPINION: The energy factor in the GCC crisis

    "Our orders have increased and there is an above-proportional growth in the orders we are getting every day," Aijaz told Al Jazeera.

    "But at the same time, we are struggling with availability of raw materials, since we are importing raw materials from Europe, from China and from the US.

    "We have a challenge because previously the materials were coming in from Jebel Ali in the UAE."

    Imports fell almost 40 percent in June as the effect on the economy from the partial siege began to show.

    Impact of import cuts

    Qatari officials say the import cuts would not affect government projects.

    "When it comes to our projects, when it comes to Qatar 2022, we don't foresee any issues even if this blockade continues for 20 years we will keep delivering," Abdulla Hamad al-Attiyah, assistant president at Ashghal public works authority, told Al Jazeera.

    "That impact you have seen could have been so much stronger on our projects, but currently, we do not foresee it because a plan [was] already in place since 2014."

    Attiyah says "in 2017, Ashghal has signed contracts worth more than $3.5bn."

    Of that amount, $1.7bn has been signed after the blockade, he says.

    "What does that give you? We believe that we can deliver infrastructure construction.

    "We will deliver on our commitment to the World Cup, our commitment to His Highness the Emir [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani] will be met one way or another."

    The construction industry has been booming in preparation for the football World Cup in 2022.

    Large infrastructure projects are also being executed to meet the government's development plan, called Qatar National Vision 2030.

    In order to fulfil that supply-and-demand cycle, businesses believe that the government needs to improve communications.

    READ MORE: All the latest updates on Qatar-Gulf crisis

    "It has always been a challenge for entrepreneurs and local manufacturers to get access to knowledge, and at Qatar Development Bank, we've been trying to come up with initiatives," Ibrahim Abdulaziz al-Mannai of Qatar Development Bank told Al Jazeera.

    "We implemented several initiatives to raise awareness of what is available in Qatar."

    Qatar has one of the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, but its reserves have taken a hit since the blockade was imposed.

    Leaders have said they would rather absorb the financial losses than compromise on sovereignty as the cost of the Gulf crisis continues to mount for all sides.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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