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Thursday, 02 Jul 2020

Embargo and pandemic stoke autonomy drive in Qatar

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Embargo and pandemic stoke autonomy drive in Qatar Embargo and pandemic stoke autonomy drive in Qatar

News24xx.com -  A Qatari arms factory that makes rifles and grenade launchers has added a product that saves rather than takes lives - ventilators, needed at home and abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The venture is the latest salvo in Doha's charm offensive to cement old partnerships and secure new friends as a bitter spat with Saudi Arabia and its allies drags into its fourth year this Friday.

The factory is preparing to churn out 2,000 life-giving ventilators weekly, in collaboration with US defence manufacturer Wilcox.

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Many are earmarked for export to what Qatar deems "friendly countries".

It has also allowed the small Gulf state to draw on capabilities developed the hard way in the wake of its regional isolation.

In the nerve centre of Qatar’s nascent arms industry, the state-run Barzan Holdings facility, giant posters of soldiers toting locally made rifles promote “sovereignty” and “lethality”.

But alongside all the gun parts and night-vision goggles, the factory is now preparing to churn out 2,000 life-giving ventilators weekly, in collaboration with US defence manufacturer Wilcox.

Many are earmarked for export to what Qatar deems “friendly countries”.

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“We thought it would be the perfect time to try to seize the moment to… ramp up production needs,” Nasser Hassan al-Naimi, Barzan’s managing director, said of the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, abruptly cut diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha in June 2017, insisting Qatar was too close to Iran and funding radical Islamist movements.

Qatar fiercely rejected those allegations and refused to budge on 13 demands made by its allies-turned-adversaries, including the closure of the Doha-based Al Jazeera news network and shutting a Turkish military base in the emirate.





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