Seven influential former allies devastatingly cut off all diplomatic, trade and transport links to the Gulf nation, but the Qataris had an ingenious plan to keep itself afloat.
This time last year, the tiny country had no dairy herds and it had to import its milk from Saudi Arabia.
But, deep in desert, isolated nation created state-of-the-art air-conditioned barns such as the Baladna farm in the northern coastal city of Al Khor — which now boasts 10,000 cattle.
“We are creating a foundation from which to ensure healthy, natural food resources to contribute to the self-sufficiency of the state of Qatar,” the farm boasts on its website.
The country’s first cows were flown in on Qatar Airways, just one month after the land blockade by its Arab neighbours. Many of the animals are from top breeders in the US.
However, Australia’s maligned live export industry has also supported the Gulf state to the tune of 640,000 sheep.
“Everybody said it cannot be done and we have done it,” Peter Weltevreden who manages the farm, told BBC.
“Our promise was that a year after the siege we would be self-sufficient in fresh milk.”
Last June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives all severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, which has been accused of supporting Islamic terrorist groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”.
However, Qatar’s foreign minister declared his country is now stronger than ever and said it was open to dialogue with its regional rivals.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, he claimed the “reckless and ill-considered blockade” had “clearly backfired”.
“Within 24 hours of the imposition of the blockade, we quickly established new sources and alternate, more sustainable supply routes for basic goods, like food and medicine,” he wrote. “In the weeks and months that followed, we signed new, long-term contracts for economic co-operation, at the same time accelerating plans to diversify our economy by diminishing our reliance on our hydrocarbon resources.
“Last October, months into the blockade, the International Monetary Fund reported that Qatar’s economy was the fastest growing in the Gulf.”
Following the blockade, Qatar soon found its only land border closed by Saudi Arabia, its state-owned airline barred from using neighbours’ airspace, and residents expelled from the quartet’s countries.
Despite hopes that the rancorous rift between the former allies — which include some of the richest countries on earth — would be resolved quickly, the crisis has endured.
Qatar claims the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty and punishment for pursuing an independent foreign policy.
Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and the United States have so far stalled though there are tentative plans for talks in September.
But, despite the impact of the crisis, many in Qatar view the past year’s events as a victory for Doha.
Qatari papers were jubilant on Tuesday, with headlines such as “Triumphant Qatar stays united” and “Qatar shines as smear campaign against it fails”.
Taxi companies offered customers free rides and some in Qatar have even called for June 5 to be made a national holiday.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) released a report claiming more than 4,000 human rights abuses had been committed against Qataris by the Saudi-led alliance in the past year.
It claims Qataris have been exposed to arbitrary arrest and routinely denied freedom of movement, according to the report by the government-appointed body detailing alleged abuses including one case of forced disappearance.
In August, Saudi Arabia will welcome millions of Muslim faithful for the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.
The Saudi government on Tuesday confirmed Qataris wishing to undertake the umrah pilgrimage to Mecca were welcome, but accused the Qatari authorities of a “negative attitude”.
Since the start of the crisis, Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of politicising religious pilgrimages to Mecca, including the hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars, which every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey is obliged to undertake at least once
— with Wires