Daily Management Review

Certain Arab Nations Saw Western Companies Targeted By Boycotts Due To The Gaza War


Certain Arab Nations Saw Western Companies Targeted By Boycotts Due To The Gaza War
An employee was found wiping tables in an empty McDonald's outlet on a recent evening in Cairo. In the Egyptian capital, other Western fast-food franchises seemed to be closing their doors.
Since the deadly Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, all have been impacted by a grassroots boycott campaign that is primarily spontaneous and opposes Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt and Jordan are seeing the effects of the drive for Western brands, and there are indications that Kuwait and Morocco are following suit. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have only slightly benefited from the uneven participation.
The companies targeted by the campaign are said to have financial connections to Israel or investments there, and others are thought to have adopted pro-Israeli positions.
As word of the campaign has spread, social media calls for boycotts have grown to include dozens of brands and items, which has caused consumers to start looking for locally produced alternatives.
Some regard the boycott as the best or only way to get their voices heard in Egypt, where there is little likelihood of people going to the streets due to security limitations.
"I feel that even if I know this will not have a massive impact on the war, then this is the least we can do as citizens of different nations so we don't feel like our hands are covered in blood," said 31-year-old Cairo resident Reham Hamed, who is boycotting U.S. fast food chains and some cleaning products.
Sometimes, pro-boycott Jordanians break into McDonald's and Starbucks locations to persuade the few patrons to patronise other establishments. Videos purporting to show Israeli forces cleaning clothing using well-known detergent brands have gone viral, prompting people to boycott the products.
"No one is buying these products," said Ahmad al-Zaro, a cashier at a large supermarket in the capital Amman where customers were choosing local brands instead.
On Tuesday night, a visit of seven KFC, Starbucks, and McDonald's locations in Kuwait City revealed that they were almost completely vacant.
An employee at a Starbucks location in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, reported a sharp decline in business this week. None were provided by the employee or the business.
Last month, McDonald's Corp. released a statement stating that it was "dismayed" by false information about its stance on the dispute and that everyone was welcome. Its Egyptian franchise has emphasised that it is owned by Egyptians and promised to donate 20 million Egyptian pounds ($650,000) to Gaza.
When asked for a statement, Starbucks pointed to an October-updated statement about its Middle East business on its website.
Rumours that the corporation had supported the Israeli government or army were refuted in the statement, which described the company as a non-political entity. Starbucks said it has nothing more to say about its business after revealing record revenues for the fourth quarter earlier this month.
Other Western corporations did not have any comments available on the matter.
In nations where there has historically been a lot of pro-Palestinian sentiment, boycott movements have become more widespread. Decades ago, Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, but the agreements did not result in a widespread reconciliation.
The demonstrations also show a general outcry against an Israeli military campaign that, in the words of Hamas-run Gaza authorities, has killed 13,300 Palestinians and caused a humanitarian crisis, making it more damaging than earlier offensives.
About 240 individuals were reported to have been taken captive and 1,200 people killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to Israel.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movements spearheaded by Palestinians have had less effect in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, than in the past.
"The scale of the aggression against the Gaza strip is unprecedented. Therefore, the reaction, whether on the Arab street or even internationally, is unprecedented," said Hossam Mahmoud, a member of BDS Egypt.
Campaigners have targeted McDonald's after its Israeli franchise claimed it provided free meals to Israeli military forces, and Starbucks for suing its workers' union over a post about the Israel-Hamas war.
According to an anonymous employee at the corporate McDonald's headquarters in Egypt, sales for the Egyptian franchise in October and November of last year decreased by at least 70%.
"We are struggling to cover our own expenses during this time," the employee said. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the figures the employee provided.
The co-founder of TBS Holding, an organisation that supplies Starbucks and McDonald's, Sameh El Sadat, an Egyptian politician, reported that he had observed a roughly 50% decline in his clients' demand.
Boycott movements have gained traction despite attempts by targeted firms to defend themselves and keep business with exclusive deals. In many circumstances, these campaigns have even spread outside of the Arab world.
An employee at a McDonald's in Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Muslim-majority Malaysia, said that the restaurant was seeing 20% fewer patrons. Reuters was unable to independently confirm this claim at the time of writing.
An app for ride hailing In Malaysia, proposals for a boycott of Grab surfaced after the wife of the chief executive claimed to have fallen "completely in love" with Israel while on vacation there.
Afterwards, she claimed that the posts had been misinterpreted. Following the calls for a boycott, the Malaysian branches of Grab and McDonald's announced that they will be contributing aid for Palestinians.
Earlier this month, the Turkish parliament banned Nestle and Coca-Cola goods from its eateries, alleging a "public outcry" against the companies, despite the fact that no significant Turkish business or government organisation had severed its connections with Israel.
The adoption of boycotts has varied, with certain nations—such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia—not witnessing any significant effects. Some people doubt boycotts can have much of an impact, even in places where they are more popular.
"If we really want to boycott and support these people (Palestinians), we take arms and fight with them...Otherwise, no," said Cairo kiosk owner Issam Abu Shalaby.