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McDonald’s Middle East business hit by Israel-Gaza ‘misinformation’

McDonald`s logo on display in front of one of the establishments

McDonald's is facing a blow to its business as customers in the Middle East and beyond boycotted the company for its perceived support of Israel.

CEO Chris Kempczinski has blamed it on "misinformation" in a LinkedIn post. 

This is the second time a major US firm's leadership has addressed the repercussions of the Israel-Gaza war, with Starbucks also experiencing similar effects.

Mr Kempczinski said: "Several markets in the Middle East and some outside the region are experiencing a meaningful business impact due to the war and associated misinformation that is affecting brands like McDonald's.

"This is disheartening and ill-founded.

"In every country where we operate, including in Muslim countries, McDonald's is proudly represented by local owner operators."

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With over 40,000 stores globally, McDonald's relies on thousands of independent businesses to own and operate most of its establishments. 

Around five percent of its stores are in the Middle East, the ongoing conflict has thrust the brand into the center of the fight.

The company's corporate headquarters had initially maintained a low profile regarding the conflict since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. 

However, McDonald's Israel's decision to provide free meals to the Israeli military sparked calls for boycotts in various Muslim-majority countries. 

Owners in nations such as Kuwait, Malaysia, and Pakistan released statements distancing themselves from the brand.

Tensions heightened as the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) officially called for a boycott of McDonald's, a move triggered by McDonald's Malaysia, backed by a Saudi firm, suing the Malaysia BDS group for $1.3 million. 

The BDS group urged McDonald's to cut ties with its franchisee in Israel and Malaysia unless it dropped the lawsuit, emphasizing the importance of peaceful solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.

McDonald's declined to comment on the lawsuit but reiterated its commitment to opposing violence and hate speech while maintaining an inclusive stance. 

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