DUBAI: Did the cows fly in the lap of luxury, or were they booked in cattle class?
The first batch of about 4,000 dairy cows Qatari businessman Moutaz Al-Khayyat planned to bring into the Gulf state had arrived from Germany on a Qatar Airways cargo plane.
Al-Khayyat’s decision to airlift milking cows into Doha, with the initial shipment of 165 Holsteins now resting comfortably in their new, purpose-built dairy paddocks, was prompted by a collapse in the supply of fresh milk after a blockade was imposed by its Gulf neighbors.
The decision to fly them via Qatar Airways, however, raised the shipping cost for the bovines by five times to $8 million (SR30 million) for Power International Holding, which is importing them.
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain last month have imposed sanctions against Qatar for financing extremist groups.
The air, sea and land blockade have disrupted food supply in the Gulf state, which is dependent on imports, mostly routed through Saudi Arabian border, to meet the basic needs of its million residents.
The Qatari businessman said that once all the cows were flown in, they would fill about 30 percent of the country’s dairy requirement, with fresh milk production from Al-Khayyat’s farm 50 kilometers north of Doha to start soon.
It will take as many as 60 flights for Qatar Airways to deliver the 590-kilogram Holstein cows, which produce more milk than any other dairy breed.
Al-Khayyat, whose main business is a construction company that built Qatar’s biggest mall, had been expanding the company’s agricultural business to complement the government’s push toward food security.
Qatar has been trying to secure other sources for its domestic food supply, and has turned to Turkey, Morocco, Iran and as far as Peru while the blockade was still in place.
Turkey so far has exported more than 15 thousand tons of dairy and poultry goods to Qatar, while Morocco and Peru have shipped mostly fruits. Iran meanwhile sends about 1,100 tons of food, mostly fruits and vegetables, to Doha daily.