Major Qatari shipping conglomerate Qatar Navigation (Milaha) is launching a direct service between Qatar and Karachi in Pakistan, the company said on Sunday, as it seeks to counter economic sanctions against Doha by other Arab States.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Doha on June 5, ending the use of Dubai's Jebel Ali port as a trans-shipment centre for goods flowing to and from Qatar.
As a result, imports into Qatar plunged by more than a third from year-earlier levels in June and July, forcing Doha to establish new shipping links and develop other trans-shipment centres in Oman and on the Indian subcontinent.
The new Pakistan service, focusing mainly on perishable products and food, will operate weekly between Qatar's Hamad Port and Karachi with a transit time of four days, making it the fastest direct connection between the countries, Milaha said.
The company said it would also next month start a service linking the Qatari ports of Mesaieed and Hamad with Karachi and the Indian port of Mundra. Last week, it launched a direct Qatar-Turkey service and earlier in August, a container service to Kuwait.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Mark Potter)