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Posted On: 13 December 2022 12:04 am
Updated On: 13 December 2022 12:31 am

H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani talks to Washington Post about criticism faced by Qatar

Fareeha Imtiaz
Fareeha Imtiaz
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Foreign minister talks to washington post about criticism

H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani spoke to Washington Post on Monday, 12 December 2022, where he underlined that the State of Qatar has been subjected to unprecedented criticisms due to its organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, noting that the attack on the State has started since submitting its bid to host the event in 2010.

H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: "The attitude and the behaviour of some media toward Qatar was quite negative and disappointing from our perspective. They were trying to judge Qatar not based on facts or not based on coming here and fact-checking."
His Excellency believed that this is the most inclusive World Cup, noting: "There are a lot of people from different countries, from different backgrounds who have never been able to come and enjoy the World Cup. If you look at the demography of the fans, Indian fans are there, as are fans from Pakistan, from Southeast Asia, from the Far East, from the Arab region, from Europe, from Latin America, from Central Asia. All of them, they are coming here and enjoying the football."
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani pointed to the uniqueness of the Qatar World Cup, saying: "In a very small country, people can go and attend four games in one day.And this made the World Cup affordable for a lot of people who never dreamed about coming to football, let alone attending multiple matches." "The best reward for us in Qatar is the way the fans have enjoyed this tournament. We are seeing, whether on social media or in some media outlets that are trying to report impartially, most of the visitors are having a very positive experience.I am sure there are maybe some negative observations here or there. But most of them are talking about how hospitable this country is and the people of this country are. How kind they are. And this is something that we are proud of. We want to show to the world that Arab countries, the Middle Eastern region, are not only about wars and conflicts. Its also about celebration and celebration of this beautiful game," His Excellency stressed.
On the rights of workers and the confusion raised on this file, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed: "We never claim that our country is perfect. We never claimed that the conditions of the migrant laborers are perfect. Once these concerns were highlighted, Qatar has acknowledged them and taken them seriously. All the reforms throughout the last 12 years that Qatar took on have been implemented. Its been pictured in a way that Qatar is just ignoring the fact that there is an issue, which is not the case."
His Excellency added that in the past eight years, a group of independent lawyers were brought to examine the labour situation and to identify the gaps and loopholes, whether in the legislation or in the system in the country. "We took the report very seriously. We had 120 recommendations at that time. A lot of these recommendations were to be dealt with at the source countries of the migrant laborers. And part of it was the responsibility of the government of Qatar," His Excellency stressed.
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani noted that Qatar opened its doors to the NGOs, and there is no country in the region that adopts an open-door policy like Qatar did. "Organizations like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, they can come here, they can publish their reports here. They cannot do it in some other places," he said.
His Excellency emphasized that the State of Qatar sets an example in the field of human rights in the region, and leads change in this area; however, "unfortunately, despite all of this, some NGOs and media outlets were just trying to attack Qatar without acknowledging or appreciating all these developments that happened."
"It's an achievement for a government system to change in 10 years. Europe didn't change in 10 years. The United States didnt change in 10 years. We have accelerated these changes. And we are also thankful for the World Cup that helped us in accelerating these kinds of changes," His Excellency added.
"But critics have been always pointing at the governments and the government's responsibility. They never point at the companies. If there was a situation happening in Europe with migrant labourers being exploited, they would blame the company involved, never the government," he continued.

Regarding migrant worker death tolls, H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the death rates published every year based on nationality.

"We don't categorize by jobs. But this is the classification that we've been using. And this is a department that's been established only a few years ago. We cannot expect from them to have an expertise and publish everything with all the details. And this is a journey that will need time. But our critics don't want to listen to the other side. That's our problem. There is a consistency in just attacking the country," His Excellency said.
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani indicated that Qatar welcomes everybody, saying: "What we've been asking is for the visitors who are visiting us to come here to enjoy the football, focus on the football, enjoy our culture, enjoy the country and the hospitality of the country. Just respect the laws, which is something that is expected of Qataris when they are travelling in other countries. Respect our laws and our traditions."
His Excellency said: "We've been very clear: It's not our business what is the background of the people who are coming. Our business is whatever is affecting public safety or trying by any means to offend the public. Its not something that's pointed or directed toward one orientation or another. This is applied to everyone." "Whatever is happening on the pitch, this is FIFA rules, not Qatar rules. Whatever is happening outside the pitch are our rules," His Excellency added.

H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, noted that the State of Qatar has delivered something historic having all these people come and experience the Middle East.

"We are 100 per cent certain that it will help a lot in changing the perception of a lot of people around the world about the region. All this infrastructure Qatar had planned back even before the bid as part of our National Vision 2030. And the World Cup helped in accelerating this to be delivered and to be achieved. It's going to continue to serve this vision for economic diversification and for our tourism sector to continue to flourish," His Excellency said.

At the conclusion of his interview with the Washington Post, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani underlined that the State of Qatar feels very proud for being able to bring all the Arabs back together, and this is the beauty and the magic of the game itself, how it brings people from different backgrounds, Arabs and non-Arabs, everyone from everywhere, together.

"You can never see this happening in the West, but you see it happen here because there's a common denominator bringing us all together - we believe that all of us belong to each other. What you have seen here in Qatar, the way that the people and the fans blended together, is really something fascinating that I don't think that we have ever seen before. And maybe we will never be able to see it again," His Excellency said.

Source & cover image credit: QNA