December 2022 NewsLetter Newsletter

Focus on Qatar

The strategy of the Qatari government has been to shift the word’s attention away from its human rights record and on to sport and culture in a process of ‘sportswashing’. Hence its successful bid to host the 2022 football World Cup. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has documented LGBT+ people being subjected to police harassment and arbitrary detention. They can face imprisonment of up to three years and are risk of being sent to secret conversion centres or of so-called ‘honour’ killings by their families. They can also face the death penalty under sharia law. In addition, women need permission from a male guardian to marry and take certain jobs. It is also easy for a husband to divorce his wife but very difficult for a woman to divorce her husband, while the father always retains sole legal custody of the children.
But what of Britain’s relationship with Qatar? The Qatar Investment Authority has £40bn of British assets, including stakes in Barclay’s Bank, Sainsbury’s, Heathrow Airport and British Airways. It also owns Harrods, Claridge’s and the Shard, amongst other prestigious properties. Qatar has also donated more than £25mn to UK universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London. Further, Sir John Jenkins, a former UK Ambassador to various Middle Eastern countries, in a report published by the think-tank Policy Exchange, warns that Qatar is playing an increasing role in facilitating and funding Islamists. He writes: ‘In its foreign policy, Qatar has often pursued a route in conflict with British interests – for example supporting Islamists in Libya and hosting Hamas. It has been accused of tolerating private funding of Islamist terror groups.’ He argues that ‘the nature of their relationships and cultural investments require more scrutiny than they have received today.’ Read this report at