Rising prices are a burning social issue and being hotly debated in the living rooms of Qatari families as well as on the local social media.
How an increasing number of Qataris are making frequent visits to towns in Saudi Arabia on weekends to buy household items because prices are high in Qatar, is a subject of mockery by some social media commentators.
“People leave their countries to escape war, famine and instability, but we are leaving our country (to visit towns in a neighbouring country) due to the ‘fire’ of price rise,” said a commentator who gave his name as Nasser Al Ali. “A handful of traders are holding people to ransom,” he said.
The Consumer Protection Department (CPD) (under the Ministry of Economy and Commerce) has come in for criticism by a number of tweeters.
“It (the CPD) must instead be renamed as Traders’ Protection Department,” said a commentator, poking fun at the state consumer rights watchdog.
“Don’t look at our luxury cars and palatial homes,” another commentator wrote. “These are all thanks to debt.”
Yet another man said that he once met a vegetable trader from an Arab country and he said that he wanted to open a vegetable shop in Qatar since profit margins are high as Qataris don’t bother about prices.
“Increasing salaries or making the CPD active to fight inflation is not the solution. The solution is to collectively escape to Al Hessa and other towns in eastern Saudi Arabia,” wrote one man.
Among the items Qataris buy in the neighbouring country are home furniture, furnishings, car spare parts and things for brides.
The problem in Qatar, according to some social media participants, is that the market is not monitored by consumer rights watchdog officials closely and laws are not strictly enforced. “When the cat is away the mice are at play,” wrote one.
Earlier, the justification given for price rise in Qatar was global inflation, but now when commodity prices are falling worldwide the rate of inflation still remains high.
Some commentators attributed the price rise to what they said were skyrocketing rents of shops, which average between QR20,000 and QR40,000 a month.
“Demolition of old buildings is still going on,” said the commentator. Prices are lower in Saudi Arabia because shop rents are low, he added, Arabic daily Al Watan reported yesterday.
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