The UAE and Saudi Arabia’s decision to close airspace, ports and territorial waters to air traffic and shipping to and from Qatar could have serious ramifications on the country’s food supplies, according to analysts.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia and the UAE made up almost 40 per cent of all food products imported by Qatar. The country’s land border with Saudi Arabia is the main route for more than half of Qatar’s food supplies.

Saudi Arabia has decided to close this border, leaving the Qataris dependent on air and sea freight, which could increase prices.

Agriculture contributed as little as 0.1 per cent to Qatar’s GDP in 2016, with the small nation highly reliant on regional links to access much of its food supplies.

“The impact on food security has so far been understated, and the Qatari’s could soon find out how vulnerable they are to their neighbours,” says Jack Kennedy, an analyst at the UK-based IHS.

“While construction and industries will be at the forefront of the economic argument, food security and access to key commodities will be key,” says Kennedy.

Social media reports and pictures have circulated showing long queues at supermarkets and cash machines in Qatar as residents fear the worst, one Doha-based analyst has told MEED under the conditions of anonymity.

“There are various estimates being circulated suggesting Qatar’s food supplies could run out very shortly,” says the analyst, who adds that many firms are being told not to speak with reporters about the subject.

In 2016, food imports from Saudi Arabia sat at about $148m, while imports from the UAE reached $160m.