- agriculture - environment - Qatar - water
Qatar: making the desert bloom
The world's king of natural gas is hungry for a new title: the first Gulf nation to rely primarily on itself for food. This week we investigate whether Qatar's goal to produce the majority of its food domestically is a misguided pipe dream.
Today the tiny nation of 1.8 million people imports 90 per cent of its food needs. By 2024 the Qatari authorities hope to turn this ratio on its head.
To do so, they'll have to transform large areas of semi-arable land into centres of food production. Water scarcity will prove the biggest hurdle to overcome, but desalination plants costing millions of euros could help alleviate the shortage. It's too soon to assess the environmental consequences of this strategy, with desalination requiring huge amounts of highly salty waste to be pumped back into the Persian Gulf.
If Qatar fails, its authorities will be deeply embarrassed. But if it succeeds - and this Gulf state becomes food independent - then Qataris can lay claim to being behind their very own food revolution.