Arab Sanctions Stir Defiance, Patriotism in Wealthy Qatar

At dusk, young Qataris gather outside the house of a ruling family member in Doha to sign a portrait of Qatar's emir mounted on a giant billboard.

A month of sanctions imposed on Qatar by Egypt and Arab neighbors that have cut ties and accused Doha of supporting militants has galvanized patriotic feelings among Qataris, who number 300,000, as well as fear about the possibility of military escalation.

While Doha denies the charges and there are no signs the standoff will spiral into military confrontation, the crisis has bolstered nationalist support for the 37-year-old ruler of the world's wealthiest country per capita.

"We will go to the streets and fight for him [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani]," said Ahmed al-Kuwari, 32, an engineer.

Local media say that hundreds of men are signing up for the military, as others deliver gibes at Arab rulers on social media and rail against "fake news" they say some Arab media outlets are spreading to divide them.

Playful tweets

After an announcement on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates that their boycott of the tiny Gulf Arab state would continue, playful Qataris shared on Twitter photoshopped images ridiculing officials from those countries. One showed a minister wearing rabbit ears.

Others shared a clip of the UAE foreign minister berating Qatar for supporting terrorism followed by a clip of Sheikh Tamim drinking a cup of tea and laughing.

Accustomed to luxurious lives and cushy government jobs, thousands of Qataris are cut off from relatives as well as properties they own in the UAE and Bahrain. Some say they won't return even if the dispute is settled.

Amira, a Moroccan curator at a Doha fashion house that imports designs from the UAE, says the dispute is affecting the decisions of her customers.

"People are starting to ask where the fabrics come from," she said. "Last week a Qatari woman found out a dress was from the UAE. She said, 'Get it away from me.' "

Source: Voice of America