Expats and locals alike express hashtag love for Qatar

I Love Qatar message. Credit: ILQ

Social media users around the world have been encouraged to pick sides this week amid an ongoing Gulf dispute.

Those who support Qatar have done so via a variety of hashtags, including #iloveqatar, #qatarisnotalone and #istandwithqatar.

Arabic speakers have also been using #الشعب_الخليجي_يرفض_مقاطعه_قطر (people of the Gulf reject cutting ties with Qatar) and #لن_اشارك_في_فتنه_الخليج (I won’t participate in Gulf boycott).

Users in Kuwait have also started a hashtag #عطله_عيد_الفطر_في_قطر, (Eid Al Fitr vacation in Qatar), to encourage Kuwaitis to support the country by visiting during the holidays.

Regional support

The outpouring of support came after a shock announcement on Monday that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE were severing diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.

In a bid to compel the nation to fall into line with regional politics, the countries have closed their land, sea and air borders and ordered the exit of all Qatari nationals.

Andrew Leber, a graduate student at the Harvard Department of Government, has been studying the hashtag use.

He told Doha News that while usage of both of the supportive hashtags has “dropped off pretty heavily” in the past day, they had initially been embraced by people across the region.

“The two solidarity tags I mentioned were almost certainly coming from Twitter users in all six of the GCC countries,” he said.

Anti-Qatar messages

But over the past few days, both the UAE and Bahrain have made it a crime to express sympathy for Qatar online.

This has discouraged residents of those nations to continue posting anything supportive of Qatar, for fear or jail time or fines.

For illustrative purposes only. Credit: Article3

When it comes to online detractors, there aren’t too many specific anti-Qatar hashtags, Leber said.

Most tweets against Qatar have been posted under #قطع_العلاقات_مع_قطر (cutting off ties with Qatar), a generic hashtag where people just share their views.

However, Leber added that he’s noticed hashtags in support of various countries’ rulers.

‘Buy local’

In Qatar, the Gulf crisis has created a swelling of nationalist support, amid expats and locals alike.

To show their solidarity, some people have been personalizing their Twitter profile pictures.

Community website ILoveQatar for example has created a Twibbon that people can add to their pictures, one of several options doing the rounds.

Residents and nationals have also been trying to encourage people to buy Qatari produce (#إدعم_المنتجات_القطرية).

The locally made products have become more important as Qatar seeks new food import sources.

New twitter accounts

As well as hashtags, a number of new Twitter accounts have also sprung up since the crisis began.

These include @IstandwithQatar, an account apparently being run by someone from Turkey:

And then there’s the satirical handle @dohaunderseige, which pokes gentle fun at some expats’ response to the crisis:

Have you been following the online conversation? Thoughts?

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