There is usually some scandal associated with high-profile world events such as the Olympics or World Cup.
- The scandals typically involve accusations of favors or payoffs.
- There is always speculation about the companies contracted to complete construction and deliver services.
- Laborers are over-worked and underpaid.
- Guest athletes are assumed to be poorly treated by the host country.
- Locations are presumed to be chosen for their strategic advantage to some teams, due to high altitudes or cold temperatures that favor some athletes accustom to those conditions. In Qatar, temperatures can exceed 104 degrees (40 degrees celsius) during warmer seasons. The event is scheduled for winter when the temperatures is more mild.
So, the expected concerns and news stories seem to be surfacing with regard to Qatar. Some are documented and well-founded, while others are speculative. An additional concern with Qatar are the conservative laws about social behavior. This document provides some commentary and recent news about Qatar.
Religiously and Socially Conservative
In Qatar, power is predominantly held by socially conservative Muslim government leaders and influential community leaders who are also conservative. This results in some restrictions on women and those in the LGBTIQ community.
A point of interest regarding Qatar is that the news agency Al Jazeera is based in the country and funded by the government. The reporting is fairly balanced and includes criticisms of Qatar.
The country has some restrictions on freedom of speech. For example, using news outlets or social media to fuel unrest and violent uprisings using conspiracy theories and misinformation would not be tolerated. General factual informational news is permitted, and news without bias seems to be favored.
Long-format, in-depth, documentary-style news coverage is typical with Al Jazeera. [Example] The style of reporting is similar to Germany’s Deutsche Welle.
In the “West” we’ve grown accustom to superficial, sensationalist, one-sided, scandal-driven, news from special interest loyalist sources. This is partly the result of competitors vying for attention and clicks to generate advertising revenue. Unless you only get your news from PBS and NPR, you’ve probably noticed some bias in the news.
One may be of the opinion that what’s happening in Qatar is horrible and must be condemned. A person may believe that we in the United States are ideally suited to be the progressive moral critics and reformers of other countries we view as “backward” cultures. One may conclude that this is an ideal time to begin exporting a forceful form of wokeism to conservative Muslim countries.
While it’s good to promote the evolution of tolerance around the world, and work to support personal freedom, we may want to dial back our own criticisms of Qatar which are based on a myopic ethnocentrism.
The United States has laws in many states similar to those of Qatar with regard to LGBTIQ prohibitions. The conditions of the working poor are equally troubling in the U.S. as elsewhere.
Stephen Colbert described the situation in Qatar with these words: “This year there has been a bit of a cloud over the Word Cup because it’s being played in the country of Qatar — a desert country with a repressive regime and a terrible human rights record where their leaders have made homosexuality illegal. It’s like if Ron DeSantis had oil.” [Source] This comment refers to the anti-gay attitudes and laws in Florida and other U.S. states.
It’s probably better to speak generally about human rights concerns in our country and other countries without specifically targeting and judging other countries. The first century admonition about not judging others is good advice in this situation.
Below are recent news reports regarding Qatar listed in chronological order with the most recent at the top. Entry headings provide the source and date.
Al Jazeera (22 Dec 2022)
“Football fans enjoy Qatari traditions and visit mosques” — During the World Cup, football fans experienced Qatar’s traditions and religion. Tens of thousands of visitors went to mosques, where they learned about Islam. Scholars say first hand experiences have helped people understand a region and a faith often portrayed negatively. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (26 Nov 2022)
“What are the costs and consequences of the Qatar World Cup?”— 2022 World Cup host Qatar is throwing crazy sums of money at the premier men’s football event, to make the small emirate look progressive. That won’t just benefit its rulers, but also Western economies, in justifying their business ties with the rich energy producer. Ben Fajzullin talks about the costs and consequences with David Conn, Investigations Correspondent at The Guardian. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (23 Nov 2022)
“Qatar: Between tradition and modernity” — On the surface, Qatar is a dazzling and colorful Arab country, home to sheikhs and big business. But migrant workers without Qatari citizenship make up nearly 90% of Qatar’s total population – the highest such rate in the world. Anyone traveling to Qatar arrives with plenty of prejudices: that it is a corrupt, filthy-rich emirate full of forced laborers who have no rights; that it is home to businessmen whose practices are, at best, questionable. But for the Qataris themselves, and the millions of guest workers from all over the world who live there, the picture is more nuanced. Yes, Qatar is a dictatorship with an emir who enjoys almost unlimited power. But at the same time, Qatar is remarkably open and progressive. The emirate is tiny, and yet tremendously fascinating – with its vast desert landscapes, its bizarrely-shaped mountains and its picturesque sandy beaches. [Source]
Colbert – Late Show (22 Nov 2022)
“A Cloud Over The World Cup” — Rainbow-wearing fans have been refused entry to the World Cup games in Qatar. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (22 Nov 2022)
“Qatar – In the spotlight of the World Cup” — The 2022 Soccer World Cup in Qatar is hugely controversial. The allegations range from corruption in the awarding of the tournament to Qatar to harsh criticism of the host nation for its human rights record, and its World Cup carbon emissions. Even as the World Cup gets underway, there’s been no letup in the criticism. The decision to hold the prestigious sports event in the middle of the desert, in the small Gulf state of Qatar, has been controversial from the start. [Read More]
CBC News (21 Nov 2022)
“Here’s why the 2022 World Cup is controversial” — Qatar is facing global scrutiny as it hosts the World Cup, from its treatment of migrant workers enduring harsh — sometimes fatal — conditions building the event’s infrastructure to the country’s criminalization of homosexuality. [Source]
The Economist (18 Nov 2022)
“Why is the World Cup important to Qatar?” — Qatar is about to host the most expensive World Cup ever, costing as much as $300bn. Why has this small, gas-rich kingdom chosen to host football’s most prestigious event, and how does it fit into its broader plans for economic transformation? [Source]
Al Jazeera (8 Nov 2022)
“Qatar and the 2022 World Cup” — The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been scrutinised like no other. What can we expect from the host nation? Why has this tournament been controversial? And can the tiny Gulf country pull it off? Here with Sandra Gathmann explains. [Source]
CNBC (8 Nov 2022)
“Why Hosting The World Cup Is A Bad Idea For Countries” — Nov. 20 is the opening day of the much anticipated FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The country is estimated to have spent roughly $229 billion on hosting the event, making it the most expensive World Cup ever, and more than four times as costly as all tournaments combined since 1990. But aside from the honor involved with hosting the biggest soccer tournament in the world, it could draw massive exposure to a country: an influx of tourism, the potential for foreign trade, new development and jobs. For Qatar, the tiny Gulf country needed stadiums and infrastructure and used 1.7 million workers, 90% foreign, to help get the country ready. The question remains, will the glory and questionable short- and long-term economic impacts outweigh the debt? Many experts say no. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (7 Nov 2022)
“Soccer World Cup: Migrant laborers in Qatar” — Trade unions have described the working conditions as modern slavery: Migrant workers from across the world built the football stadiums in Qatar – in dubious conditions. This is their story. [Read More]