Doha residents and expats get used to reality of daily living

Published:  5 Jul at 6 PM
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As the Gulf States consider Qatar’s reply to their demands, expats and Qataris are adjusting their lifestyles to suit the unwelcome reality of their new situations.

Almost a month after the emirate’s Gulf neighbours cut off diplomatic relations and imposed an embargo, Qatari nationals and the tiny country’s large expat population are adjusting to unwelcome changes in the daily reality of life. Prices for staple goods have increased, with essentials such as milk and vegetables being shipped in from Turkey and Iran, and those wishing to travel outside the emirate have a restricted choice of longer flights caused by the closure of the surrounding airspace.

One Qatari citizen shopping at his local market told the media the government’s actions had reduced the threat of food shortages, but noted prices were beginning to rise, resulting in his family’s having to cut back on essentials. Supermarket shelves are now full again, and no-one is actually going hungry as was feared. However, nationals and expats are noticing shortages of favourite imported foodstuffs, and less predictable items including replacement windshields are difficult to find.

Almost 90 per cent of the emirate’s population are foreigners with specific preferences as regards food, drink and other imported necessities, many of which are now in short supply. Those on small salaries as part of the migrant workforce are afraid of future food price inflation, with some of the Indian merchants already seeing increases in the prices of perishables such as parsley and chives.

Perhaps the most affected groups are expats who frequently travel outside Qatar and non-Qataris forced to leave as well as Qataris living in the UAE who’ve had to return home. One Qatari mother married to an Emirati had no option but to fly back home with her child, only to be told by customs she could not take the baby as he is ‘an Emirati national’.

According to the Qatari National Human Rights Committee, over 13,000 people have been forced into similar situations. Overall, Qataris and expats alike are supportive of government moves to protect them but for most the situation is little short of a nightmare.
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