Category: Gulf Land of Qatar


July 27, 2020

Qatar, the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, announced on Monday it would also like to stage the Olympics, possibly in 2032.

The Gulf Arab state’s Olympic committee said it submitted a request to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to join the phase of “continuous dialogue” about hosting a future Games.

Oil-rich Qatar is increasingly keen to host major sporting events and has already welcomed world athletics championships, though scorching desert temperatures during parts of the year have caused some anxiety in the sports world.

“It is this proven track-record and wealth of experience, along with our desire to use sport to promote peace and cultural exchange, that will form the basis of our discussions with the Commission,” Qatar Olympic Committee President Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a statement.

The Olympics have never been hosted in the Middle East, and Qatar will be the first nation in the region to host soccer’s biggest showpiece.

It has invested billions of dollars in preparing for the 2022 soccer World Cup. However, human rights groups have criticized the treatment of migrant workers.

The Qatari government has said it does not tolerate unscrupulous treatment of workers.

Qatar’s Doha had also unsuccessfully bid for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

“The IOC… welcomes the interest recently expressed by Qatar, which is the latest country to enter the new dialogue phase,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The IOC has changed the bidding process in recent years to reduce costs and make it more attractive to interested cities, who now enter into an initial discussion with the IOC to see whether the Olympics would be a fit for them.

“These are ongoing, non-committal discussions that are not necessarily related to a specific edition of the Olympic Games or the Youth Olympic Games, and are an opportunity to explore a project without committing extensive time and resources,” the IOC said.

There is no deadline for a decision to be made, though usually cities are given at least seven years in advance to prepare for hosting the Games.

Several other countries have expressed an interest in the 2032 summer Olympics including Indonesia, Australia, India, and Germany, among others.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200727-qatar-interested-in-hosting-olympics-possibly-in-2032/.

July 14, 2020

In a humiliating defeat for Saudi Arabia and its allies, the top UN court has ruled in a 16-1 decision in favor of Qatar over the ongoing dispute between Doha and its Gulf neighbors.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) dismissed, today, the appeal lodged by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain against the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The aviation body had ruled two years ago that the air blockade imposed by the four countries was illegal.

The top UN court backed Qatar and unanimously “rejects the appeal” by the four blockading states against the decision by the world civil aviation body who ruled in favor of Doha over sovereign airspace, ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

ICAO ruled in 2018 that it had the jurisdiction to handle a dispute brought by Qatar, which accused its neighbors of violating international conventions that regulate the free passage of its passenger planes through foreign airspace.

Saudi and its allies rejected the verdict insisting that ICAO was not the right body to judge in the dispute and that its decision to do so was “manifestly flawed and in violation of fundamental principles of due process and the right to be heard.” They had asked the ICJ to declare the aviation body’s ruling “null and void and without effect”.

Welcoming the verdict an official Qatari press release said: “Since June 2017, the Blockading States have prohibited Qatar-registered aircraft from flying to or from their airports and overflying their national airspaces, in flagrant violation of international law. In two judgments released today, the ICJ rejected all three grounds of appeal raised by the Blockading States, finding that the ICAO has jurisdiction to hear Qatar’s claims. The ICAO Council will now resume its proceedings.”

Qatar’s Communication and Transport Minister added: “We welcome today’s decision by the ICJ that will see the Blockading States finally face justice for violating international aviation rules. We are confident that the ICAO will ultimately find these actions unlawful. This is the latest in a series of rulings that expose the Blockading Countries’ continued disregard for international law and due process. Step by step their arguments are being dismantled, and Qatar’s position vindicated.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200714-un-top-court-rules-qatar-blockade-is-illegal/.

January 14, 2019

The CEO of Israeli spyware company NSO Group has admitted that its software was used to spy on the Emir of Qatar.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend, Shalev Hulio admitted that his company’s product was used to spy on Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, as well as Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

The interview disclosed that NSO’s “Pegasus” software – which can be used to remotely infect a target’s mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device – was used to intercept phone calls and text messages made by both the Qatari foreign minister and the Emir. These conversations reportedly concerned “hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom to Iran and Hezbollah for the release of several Qataris,” some of which was allegedly sent to the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani.

This spying was seemingly undertaken at the behest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Hulio revealed that the Israeli Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) authorized three deals with the UAE for the sale of NSO software, despite the fact that DECA is only supposed to give authorization for the “purpose of fighting terrorism and crime”.

These deals – allegedly mediated by former senior Israeli defense officials with close ties to a senior Emirati official – raised a total of $80 million in revenue for NSO.

NSO’s Pegasus software has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the product was revealed to be complicit in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Though Hulio stressed in the interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend that “Khashoggi was not targeted by any NSO product or technology, including listening, monitoring, location tracking and intelligence collection,” it appears that Saudi Arabia used NSO software to spy on many of Khashoggi’s friends and associates.

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been at the forefront of these claims, telling the Israeli newspaper: “I do not pretend that NSO is involved in hacking [directly] into Khashoggi’s phone, so their denial does not take us to a different conclusion. The evidence shows that the company’s products were involved in hacking into the phones of [Khashoggi’s] friends Omar Abdel Aziz, Yahya Assiri, and Ghanem Al-Masarir.”

The UAE is also known to have been using NSO’s software for some time. In 2016, Citizen Lab and Apple revealed there were attempts to infect an iPhone owned by the Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. Mansoor had raised the alarm after receiving suspicious text intended to “bait to get him to click on a link, which would have led to the infection of his Apple iPhone 6 and control of the device through a spy software created by the NSO Group”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190114-israeli-company-admits-spying-on-emir-of-qatar/.

June 28 2018

A Qatari businessman vowed to give away three new cars as gifts to celebrate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election victory while suggesting to rename his country’s traditional camel races as “the Erdoğan race,” Turkish daily Yeni Şafak reported on June 27.

Jarallah bin Hamad al-Salameen, a businessman and participant of Qatar’s annual camel races, had vowed before Turkey’s June 24 elections that he would give away three new cars if Erdoğan wins.

After Erdoğan was elected president in the first round of elections, al-Salameen said he was ready to deliver the cars to the competition committee.

“We congratulate the people of Qatar, everyone who loves Erdoğan and the Islamic world. I am gifting three cars to this competition to mark this occasion,” al-Salameen reportedly said.

“I also propose to rename the camel race as the Erdoğan race,” he added.

Dozens of camels race in Qatar’s traditional races every year in the competition also known as the Race of the Sheiks, as most of the animals are owned by the leading families of the Gulf nation.

Although the tradition dates back to the early years of the Islamic period, the human jockeys were recently replaced by “robot jockeys” affixed to their camel’s backs for safety reasons.

Source: Hurriyet.

Link: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/qatari-businessman-gives-away-three-cars-to-celebrate-erdogans-election-victory-133895.

September 17, 2018

The Qatari envoy yesterday inaugurated the Justice Palace complex in the central Gaza Strip.

Qatari Ambassador Mohamed Al-Emadi, head of the National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, launched the 11 dunam (2.7 acre) site which cost $11 million to build and comprises the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, as well as Appeal, First Instance and Reconciliation courts.Abdul Raouf Al-Halabi, president of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary in the Gaza Strip, praised Qatar’s efforts to complete the project and its continued support to the Palestinian people.

“I am pleased on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the Supreme Council of the Judiciary. We welcome your presence here,” he said.

Al-Halabi explained that this project is a major Palestinian landmark, “to begin through this moment the first stage of the march of judicial development in the Gaza Strip.”

He thanked the Qatari Ambassador and his team for their efforts and support to complete the project.

The National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza is carrying out a number of projects in the Gaza Strip as a part of $407 million grant from His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180917-qatar-opens-courts-in-gaza/.

August 10, 2018

Qatar is set to be knocked off its perch as the richest country in the world by the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

For several years the gas rich Gulf state held the envious status of the richest country in the world. Its per capita GDP was around $127,600 a year ago, according to the International Monetary Fund and with Luxembourg quite a way off in second place, with $104,003, Qatar’s status seemed to have been safe.

However the global casino hub of Macau has reached parity with Qatar’s GDP per capita and is predicted to outstrip Qatar by 2020, with $143,116 per capita GDP, according to projections from the IMF. The prediction will put Macau ahead of the current No. 1 Qatar, which will reach $139,151 in the same timeframe.

A former Portuguese outpost on the southern tip of China, Macau has become a gambling capital since returning to Chinese control almost two decades ago.

It is the only place in China where casinos are legal, turning it into a magnet for high-rollers from the mainland. Macau’s gross domestic product has more than tripled from about $34,500 per capita in 2001, the IMF data shows.

The wealth gap between the two places is also expected to widen beyond 2020, with Macau’s GDP per capita set to reach $172,681 by 2023, according to data compiled from the April edition of the IMF’s Global Economic Outlook database. Qatar’s, meanwhile, will grow to just $158,117.

Small developed countries or regions are more likely to rank top of world rich lists when there are fewer people to divide the wealth. The per capita calculation works in favor of Macau, whereas the oil-rich nation of Qatar has a population of 2.57 million.

Qatar has also endured a period of sluggish economic growth as a result of sanctions imposed by its Gulf neighbors; Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Doha’s economy has recovered but its ability to maintain the level of growth seen in past is unlikely to be repeated in the foreseeable future under the current climate.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180810-qatar-set-to-be-knocked-off-its-position-as-richest-country-in-the-world/.

July 18, 2018

Samir Murad, Jordan’s Labor Minister, and Qatar’s Minister of Management Development, Labor and Social Welfare, Issa al-Naimi announced an agreement, Tuesday, to create 1,000 work places for Jordanians by September, Jordanian news agency Petra reported.

This agreement is part of the Qatari initiative to afford 10,000 work places for the Jordanian youths, the Jordanian minister said.

During a press conference in Doha, Murad said that Qatari government will issue visas for Jordanian job seekers.

Murad went on to say that both the Jordanian and Qatari ministries agreed to form a joint committee to follow up the issue. They will prepare a database for the Jordanian job seekers and make it available to Qatari employers.

Murad said that the Qatari initiative would help decrease unemployment rate in the Kingdom, which has reached 18.5 per cent (280,000).

Murad also said that Jordan would support Qatari efforts in the run up to World Cup 2022.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180718-qatar-recruits-jordanians/.

March 15, 2018

Qatar signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraq to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) has reported.

The agreement aims to enhance security cooperation and exchanging information and experiences between Qatar and Iraq.

“The MoU between the Qatar and Iraq aims at further joint security cooperation and regulates the coordination process between the two countries, as well as the exchange of information and experience, as Iraq accumulates experience in the security field,” QNA quoted the country’s head of public security, Major General Saad Bin Jassim Al Khulaifi, as saying.

He further explained that it will cover all security-related areas, including training and exchange of information in the field of combating terrorism, money laundry, combating counterfeiting, organised crime, drugs and human trafficking as well as all security of ports and airports.

Praising the “close cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” Al Khulaifi noted that the two parties intend to form a joint committee of specialists to follow up and monitor the implementation of the MoU’s provisions.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180315-qatar-iraq-sign-security-cooperation-agreement/.

March 1, 2018

A spokeswoman for the Qatari foreign ministry said yesterday that her country will not change its policy even if the blockade continues forever.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Lulwa Al Khater, made the remarks at the opening session of an international conference organized by the Middle East Dialogue Center in Brussels.

“The siege imposed on Qatar by regional players has accelerated our relations through several axes, the most important of which was the launching of the Qatari-US strategic dialogue,” Al Khater said, adding that the conference in Brussels “is an opportunity to refute the lies spread by the blockade countries and to respond to those who try to discredit Qatar.”

For his part, the Qatari Ambassador to Belgium, Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Khulaifi, said the siege gave Qatar power and it could overcome its consequences quickly, adding that the siege now has only effects on the social side while the state succeeded in maintaining its stability and security.

Al Khulaifi explained that Qatar has succeeded in finding alternatives and strategic partnerships to achieve its ambitions.

According to the ambassador, Doha has investments worth about $2 billion in Turkey, while Ankara will support the Qatari economy and participate in the 2022 World Cup projects.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180301-qatar-will-not-change-policy-even-if-blockade-never-ends/.

January 18, 2018

60,000 armed Turkish soldiers will be deployed across four military bases abroad in accordance with a new 2022 plan, The New Khalij reported today.

The Turkish National Security Council finalized the plan yesterday, in order to meet Turkey’s military and commercial interests to support its allies.

Turkey already has 3,000 troops deployed near the Red Sea, in Somalia and a military base in Sudan’s Suakin Island, which is capable of holding some 20,000 military personnel for five years. 200 Turkish soldiers have been deployed in Somalia since October last year, training Somalia’s military.

In addition to some hundred soldiers currently based in Qatar’s Al-Udeid military base since shortly after the blockade on Qatar, Turkey plans to deploy more to fulfill its 2022 plan. The number has not publicly been disclosed.

Qatar announced today that Turkish commercial firms will be given priority for business during the World Cup in 2022, to be held in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

Some 112 companies from a variety of sectors will be attending Expo Turkey by Qatar, co-organized with Turkey’s Independent Industrialists and Business people’s’ Association (MUSIAD). Turkish and Qatari commercial firms have already signed business agreements worth some 60 million dollars.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180118-turkey-to-deploy-60000-soldiers-in-bases-abroad-including-in-qatar/.