SIX MOTHS AGO Serkan Ucar arrived in Doha to scope out business opportunities - away from his usual patch. 

The mission looks set to pay off  handsomely, as the Turkish entrepreneur expects to win a first contract to help build an iconic 2022 World Cup stadium.

Since several Arab countries launched an economic boycott of Qatar's a year ago, the tiny Gulf state has had to find an alternative partners for trade and investments. Aided by its massive natural gas wealth, it has rapidly made new friends.

A year ago, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport and trade links with Doha, accusing it off backing  terrorism   -a charge that it strongly denies.

The boycott disrupted Qatar's shipping routes through the Gulf and blocked imports across its only land border with Saudi Arabia, previously the route for its perishable food supplies and construction materials.

In the bitter diplomatic and economic chill, Ankara sided with Qatar. Ucar, 28, saw openings.

''They've have been extremely welcoming for Turkish companies after the blockade,'' Ucar told Reuters at a hotel where he was about to interview for engineers for jobs at his new office in Doha.

His family business Referans Holding expects to sign a contract soon to supply scaffolding and aluminium and fit out Lusail Stadium, where the  2022 World Cup final will take place.

Many Turkish contractors are bidding for projects as Qatar project pushes ahead with infrastructure for the tournament, said  Joseph Abraham, chief executive of Commercial Bank of Qatar.

World Cup Boom.

Huge construction projects are under way for the  World Cup . Seven new stadiums are being built, along with other infrastructure, sucking in building materials from far afield.

Gypsum, used to make drywall, is being newly imported from Iran, said a construction manager who declined to be named. Gabbro, used to make asphalt and concrete, was now being imported from Oman instead of UAE.

While the  World Cup  means  sporting drama and global prestige, the early stages of the boycott were all about urgent shortages of basic products.

When diary, fresh milk and eggs disappeared from stores, Doha airlifted in more than 3,000 cows on state airline Qatar Airways and imported eggs from Oman, which kept its shipping route with Qatar open when Dubai halted shipments to Doha.

In Qatar's supermarkets, Turkish brands like Ulker and Pinar soft cream cheese are doing well.

''The Turkish market is very important to us,'' said Saleh bin Hamad al Sharqi, director general at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 'It's geographically close logistically, high quality and less competitive prices.''


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