A first herd of boycott-busting cows has been airlifted to Qatar to boost milk supplies five weeks after neighbouring Gulf states cut links with the emirate.
The several dozen Holsteins were flown in from Budapest, the first of 4,000 cattle to be imported by August.
The bemused bovines took to their new surroundings at a farm 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Doha, despite being the centre of attention from journalists and the pride of Qatar, which sees their arrival as a sign of its defiance in the Gulf crisis.
“We brought in 165 Holsteins, all highly bred Holsteins, especially for dairy,” said John Dore, a senior manager at Baladna Livestock Production.
“There are 35 milking cows, that are in milk at present and there’s 130 that will calve in the next two-to-three weeks.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar last month, closed the only land border and halted all exports of food to the emirate.
The Gulf states accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge it denies.
Prior to the crisis, Qatar largely relied on dairy imports from Saudi Arabia, especially of milk.
The cattle will be farmed for both milk and meat.
“Local supply covers between 10 and 15 per cent at present” of Qatar’s needs, added Dore, speaking to reporters at the farm.
“Before, most of the milk in Qatar was imported from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“At the moment the gap is being filled by Turkish imports, which are welcome for the present but the quality won’t compare with local produce.”
The cows were brought in by a Qatar Airways cargo plane on Tuesday.
Moutaz al-Khayyat, the chairman of Qatari firm Power International which bought and imported the cows, told Bloomberg News that once all the 4,000 cows arrive in Qatar, they will meet around 30 percent of the country’s dairy needs.
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