Qatar is preparing to launch an audacious plan to airlift thousands of dairy cows from Germany, the US and Australia to address its domestic milk demand in face of a Saudi-led blockade which is expected to remain in place for an unspecified time.
The Sunday Telegraph in a report said the plan was the brainchild of Moutaz al-Khayyat, a Syrian businessman and the chairman of Power International Holding based in Doha.
Based on the plan, a specially-configured transport aircraft would land in Qatar later this week to deliver 140 German cows to certain air-conditioned hangars in the desert.
Every two or three days after that there would be more planes and more cows, until 4,000 cattle have arrived in an arid kingdom with almost no grass and with temperatures regularly around 114F (46C), added the report.
The total delivery of the cattle is expected to take 60 flights.
This has already been described as the biggest airlift of livestock ever attempted. Qatari officials have also compared it with the Berlin airlift of 1948, when the Soviet blockade of West Berlin was broken by thousands of supply flights to Tempelhof airport.
“The point the Western world wanted to make was: we will make Berlin survive despite the siege that it faces,” Fahad al-Attiyah, Qatar’s Ambassador to Moscow, told The Sunday Telegraph. “It’s not practicality or pragmatism, it’s about ideology. If the price of Qatar’s independence is to airlift every single pint of milk then we will do so.”
Al-Khayatt told the daily he hoped his airlifted cows would help Qatar eventually become completely self-sufficient in milk production.
He added that he had first thought of the idea years ago but decided to massively speed up its implementation after Qatar’s neighbors moved against it. “The crisis is giving new opportunities for local businessmen to increase their business and open up new lines of work,” he said.
The tiny emirate is home to only 2.6 million people but it imports 90 percent of its food and has only two days’ worth of fresh water in reserve, added The Sunday Telegraph.
So when Saudi Arabia abruptly shut Qatar’s only land border on June 5, there was genuine panic that the nation might go hungry.
But four weeks later, the shelves of Doha’s gleaming supermarkets are still full thanks to imports from Iran and Turkey.