Tag Archives: Qatar

Pilgrim Carries ISIL Flag at Hajj Rituals on Arafat Plain

Pilgrim Carries ISIL Flag at Hajj Rituals on Arafat Plain

TEHRAN (FNA)- A pilgrim has carried the flag of the ISIL terrorist group on the Plain of Arafat in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj rituals, media reports said.

According to Iraq’s Alsumaria satellite TV network, social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, posted photos on Saturday showing a pilgrim carrying the ISIL flag during the Hajj rites on Jabal ar-Rahmah mountain on the Plain of Arafat on Friday, press tv reported.

The Saudi television aired footage of the pilgrim with the ISIL flag for just a few seconds before it stopped broadcasting the video.

This comes as Saudi Arabia and its former intelligence chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan have played a leading role in the formation of the ISIL terrorist group.

The ISIL controls large areas of Syria’s East and North. The group sent its militants into Iraq in June, seizing large parts of land straddling the border between Syria and Iraq.

The West and its regional allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are reportedly giving financial and military support to the militants.

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Incredible Photos Show How Qatar Has Transformed Over 40 Years

The tiny Middle Eastern state of Qatar has come a long way since it gained independence in 1971.Qatar’s capital, Doha, was a sleepy pearl fishing community until the ’90s, when it began tapping into its vast offshore natural gas reserves. After investing heavily in liquefied natural-gas technology, Qatar is now one of the leading exporters in the world, with a sovereign wealth fund (known as the Qatar Investment Authority) worth over $85 billion, according to CNN Money.

Today, it is home to the headquarters of the country’s largest oil and gas companies, and a population of almost 600,000.

And the city is not done growing. As a result of Qatar’s increasing corporate and commercial activity, 47 new skyscrapers are currently being built in Doha, according to Emporis. New hotels will also be joining Qatar’s skyline to attract even more tourists to its spa villages, huge malls, and scenic artificial islands. In 2022, Doha will even host the FIFA World Cup in its brand-new (questionable-looking) stadium.

To see how far the country has come since it gained its independence from the United Kingdom just over four decades ago, we compiled some photos of Doha then and now.

THEN: Here’s what the skyline of the Qatari capital of looked like in 1977.

THEN: Here's what the skyline of the Qatari capital of looked like in 1977.NOW: Here’s the Doha skyline today. There are currently 47 buildings under construction in the city, according to Emporis.
NOW: Here's the Doha skyline today. There are currently 47 buildings under construction in the city, according to Emporis.THEN: Here’s what the heart of Doha’s commercial center looked like back in 1968.
THEN: Here's what the heart of Doha's commercial center looked like back in 1968.NOW: Today, the West Bay is Doha’s rapidly expanding urban center, with numerous skyscrapers and plenty of shopping malls.
NOW: Today, the West Bay is Doha's rapidly expanding urban center, with numerous skyscrapers and plenty of shopping malls.THEN: When it was first built in 1975, the Qatar National Museum in Doha was quite a big deal. Here it is in 1977, framed by a part of the crumbling old city.THEN: When it was first built in 1975, the Qatar National Museum in Doha was quite a big deal. Here it is in 1977, framed by a part of the crumbling old city.NOW: Today, Doha is internationally known for its latest museum, the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art. Set against the skyline and lit up at night, the museum houses the city’s collection of manuscripts, textiles, and ceramics.
NOW: Today, Doha is internationally known for its latest museum, the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art. Set against the skyline and lit up at night, the museum houses the city's collection of manuscripts, textiles, and ceramics. This was part of Doha’s open-air market in 1977. Piles of garbage and loiterers smoking hookah were not an uncommon site.
This was part of Doha's open-air market in 1977. Piles of garbage and loiterers smoking hookah were not an uncommon site.NOW: Doha is all about its luxury shopping malls. This is the mall in Porto Arabia, with views of the riviera.
NOW: Doha is all about its luxury shopping malls. This is the mall in Porto Arabia, with views of the riviera.THEN: The palace of the ruling Sheikh in Doha, Qatar in 1971. The grounds weren’t even complete yet.
THEN: The palace of the ruling Sheikh in Doha, Qatar in 1971. The grounds weren't even complete yet.NOW: And here is the Emiri Diwan (the Emir’s Palace) today, with lush green grass and well-kept grounds.
NOW: And here is the Emiri Diwan (the Emir's Palace) today, with lush green grass and well-kept grounds.THEN: This was the clock tower in the industrial center of Doha in 1971.
THEN: This was the clock tower in the industrial center of Doha in 1971.NOW: And here is the clock tower today, dwarfed by the Grand Mosque at the Emiri Palace in the background.
NOW: And here is the clock tower today, dwarfed by the Grand Mosque at the Emiri Palace in the background.THEN: A discarded Plymouth Convertible American car is seen on the outskirts of the city in 1977, where it was dumped in the desert.THEN: A discarded Plymouth Convertible American car is seen on the outskirts of the city in 1977, where it was dumped in the desert. NOW: Today, the outskirts of the city have tourist attractions such as the Khalifa International Stadium and the 984-foot-tall Aspire Tower in the Doha Sport City complex.
NOW: Today, the outskirts of the city have tourist attractions such as the Khalifa International Stadium and the 984-foot-tall Aspire Tower in the Doha Sport City complex.

Sepp Blatter’s Re-Election Rocked by Bomb Scare at FIFA Congress

Zurich vote FIFA
AFC members hold 47 of the 209 votes in the FIFA election

Sepp Blatter is calling for unity among FIFA’s 209 members as the world soccer body holds its annual Congress in Zurich.

Zurich: Swiss police are investigating a bomb threat at the FIFA congress, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

“I can confirm there has been a bomb threat against the FIFA congress, officers have been dispatched” the spokeswoman for the city police said.

Meanwhile, world soccer boss Sepp Blatter was expected to be re-elected on Friday, defying growing calls for him to step down in the face of corruption scandals engulfing the sport’s governing body.

Addressing FIFA delegates at the body’s annual Congress in Switzerland, where members will later vote to decide the organisation’s presidency, Blatter promised more transparency and urged members to remain unified.

He also said that FIFA would probably not be facing its present problems if Russia and Qatar had not been awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.

“Today, I am appealing to unity and team spirit so we can move forward together,” he said, in a low key-address that contrasted with his more defiant reaction on Thursday.

Blatter also sought to distance himself from the scandal, the biggest crisis FIFA has faced in its 111-year history.

U.S. authorities have accused top FIFA figures and sports executives of corruption, while Switzerland is separately investigating the award of the next World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar.

The human toll of FIFA’s corruption

In the end, it only took a $150 million scandal to make Americans care about soccer. FIFA, the notoriously corrupt and yet seemingly invincible governing body of world soccer, has finally landed itself an indictment that some would say is worthy of its reputation.

The charges against a handful of senior FIFA officials include money laundering, racketeering, bribery and fraud. In short, the federal lawsuit alleges what millions of soccer fans have suspected all along: that FIFA officials have been using the organization’s massive influence to line their pocketbooks.

On the surface, it’s just another white collar crime story: rich, powerful men making themselves richer and more powerful. But a closer look suggests that there is a lot of real-world suffering happening as a direct result of FIFA’s decisions.

For the most obvious example of this, look to Qatar. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the rich Gulf state with a terrible human rights record was a controversial one right out of the gate. There have been extensiveallegations of bribery: why else, some figured, award the Cup to a tiny country with sweltering summer heat and no soccer culture to speak of?

A rendition of a planned World Cup stadium in Qatar. (AP Photo/Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)

Human rights advocates’ worst fears about Qatar seemed to be confirmed as Qatar began building the infrastructure to host the Cup, and reports of migrant worker deaths started to pile up. The numbers, to the extent that we know them, appear startling:

A Guardian investigation last year revealed that Nepalese migrant workers were dying at a rate of one every two days. In sum, the Guardian put the total Qatar death toll of workers from Nepal, India andBangladesh at 964 in 2012 and 2013.

It is hard to know how many of those are specifically World Cup associated. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come to Qatar each year, and there could be hundreds of deaths even without a World Cup — figures from the Indian embassy show, for instance, that 200+ Indian workers died in Qatar in 2010, before the World Cup announcement.

But the numbers could also be worse: a report by the International Trade Union Confederation has estimated 1,200 deaths so far, with up to 4,000 additional worker deaths by 2022.

In the chart below, I’ve compared those fatality numbers for Qatar with worker fatality estimates for other major international sporting events in recent years. Some of these numbers (like Sochi’s) are third-party estimates, others (like Beijing’s) are based on official numbers that are almost certainly an undercount.

And it’s tough to do an apples-to-apples comparison here, since the Qatar estimates include the deaths of all migrant workers after the announcement of Qatar’s successful bid in 2010, while other countries’ figures may only include deaths directly related to, say, stadium construction.

If current trends continue, the ITUC estimates that 4,000 workers will die in Qatar by the time the World Cup is actually held in 2022. Qatar officials have previously pledged to address worker safety concerns.

“We believe that the people helping us build our country deserve to be fairly paid, humanely treated and protected against exploitation,” the country’s labor ministry told the Guardian.

“That is why we are reforming our labour laws and practices.”

Still, it’s clear that Qatar has a troubled record when it comes to poor worker safety. Conditions for migrant workers there are so bad that the International Trade Union Confederation has called the state “a country without a conscience.”

Many of the abuses of migrant workers in Qatar and other Gulf countries are related to a governing system called “kafala,” which dictates how migrant workers may enter the country.

The system has been criticized for essentially placing workers under the complete control of their employers and leaving the door wide open for exploitation and abuse.

In the light of the new Justice Department investigation, Swiss authorities are announcing a new inquiry into the process that gave Qatar the cup in 2010. If FIFA board members did indeed accept bribes from Qatar to let it host the 2022 cup, it would show how backroom corruption can have real human consequences.

Strange Bedfellows – Middle-East ‘Frenemies’

United Against Islamic State

The enemy of your enemy is your… frenemy; and so it is across the Middle East as the WSJ notes the spread of The Islamic State has united many parties once at odds with each other to become ‘strange bedfellows’.

Strange Bedfellows – Parties that display friction or outright aggression toward one another are finding themselves aligned in a desire to counter Islamic State.

U.S. and Iran
The U.S. and Iran share an interest in fostering an Iraqi government strong enough to fend off Islamic State.

U.S. and Syria
The U.S. and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad share an interest in quashing Islamic State in Syria, even if the regime appears to put a higher priority on fighting other rebel groups.

Israel and Egypt
Israel and Egypt have come together to oppose Hamas, and they now have a similar long-term interest to do the same in confronting Islamic State.

Syria, Kurds, Turkey and Iraq
Turkey and Syria, long fearful of building up the region’s Kurds, have a shared interest in building up the Kurdish Peshmerga to combat a more immediate threat, Islamic State. Iraq has acquiesced.

Turkey and Qatar
Turkey and Qatar suddenly have a shared interest in keeping the Islamist movement they separately helped foster in check before Islamic State absorbs and consolidates it.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq
Saudi Arabia supported Sunnis in Iraq while Iran supported Shiites. They now have an interest in aiding the Shiite-led Iraq government to counter a common threat.

U.S., China and Russia
Russia and China have plenty of disputes with the U.S., but they agree that, as big powers, they are threatened in similar fashion by the expansionist Islamic extremism of Islamic State.

U.S., Egypt, Qatar and Turkey
Egypt’s military ruler sees Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. as hostile to his suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. They all now fear Islamic State will consolidate the Islamic threat.

U.S. and al Qaeda
The greatest odd bedfellow of all: Islamic State threatens al Qaeda as well as the West, meaning that, in fact, al Qaeda and the U.S. now have a shared enemy.

A Memorial for the Workers Dying While Constructing the Qatar World Cup Stadium

Rendering of the Qatar World Cup Memorial. Credit: 1W1P

Rendering of the Qatar World Cup Memorial. Credit: 1W1P

The Qatar World Cup Memorial project is a scalable building that raises awareness about the number of workers who died during the construction of the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It is in the form of a tower made of concrete modules, each one representing a deceased worker. The higher the number, the higher the tower…If the death rate is not reduced, the Qatar World Cup Memorial could reach a height of 1.5 kilometers (nearly a mile).— 1week1project.org

1W1P – 1Week1Project – is a collaborative effort by French architects Axel de Stampa and Sylvain Macaux, graduates of l’Ecole d’Architecture in Paris-Belleville. They challenged themselves to produce a “spontaneous architecture” per week for a year, or fifty-two projects.

At this point, they have produced 25 predominately-speculative projects, from this memorial to the workers who have died (and are continuing to die) while constructing the World Cup Stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to an ephemeral installation for the interior of the Eiffel Tower that would light up every time someone used #eiffeltower on social media.

With the Qatar World Cup Memorial, they invoke the memories of the more than 500 foreign workers who have died in the country since 2012.

While Zaha Hadid, designer of the World Cup Stadium in Qatar, has become the subject of controversy for alleged statements rejecting an architect’s responsibility for conditions on their projects, 1W1P proposes a distinctly different vision of how architecture can relate to those who are actually doing the building.

While there is basically no chance that this project would ever be actualized, at the rate that workers are currently dying, the building would end up towering over many of Qatar’s other skyscrapers if actually built.

I think this project is pretty moving and am personally excited to see what else the 1W1P will come up with. I also love the continuous-construction aspect, which seems like a great gesture to the speculative architecture of the last century like Archigram and Superstudio but tempered by a very real and material politics.

Their methodology is straight-forward but challenging: “1W1P identifies a site, puts a diagnosis forward and makes a proposal that will involve an architectural project. There is one rule only : to propose spontaneous and open projects.”

10 Arab Nations Join US-Led Coalition against Islamic State

Isis: Ten Arab Nations Join US-Led Coalition against Islamic State
US Secretary of State John Kerry poses with his Arab counterparts in Jeddah.

Ten Arab nations have announced they are to join a US-led coalition against Isis (known as Islamic State) militants.

In a joint statement, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, said they “will do their share” to fight against the jihadist group that has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The development marks a major diplomatic success for Washington and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had embarked on a Middle East tour to lobby for a greater Arab role in the fight against extremists. 

In fact, some of the ten states have tense diplomatic relations due to their rivalry on other regional issues.

Qatar and Turkey’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, has put the two countries at odds with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt.

The announcement came after Kerry met delegates from the ten countries in the Saudi government’s summer seat of Jeddah.

The group of states said they assessed plans to eradicate IS “wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria” and pledged to join in “many aspects of a coordinated military campaign” against the militant organisation.

They also promised to support the new Iraqi government and stop the flow of funds and fighters that have boosted IS power.

Representatives from Turkey attended the meeting but did not sign the agreement and refused to let the coalition use its bases to launch air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

“Turkey will not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations,” a government spokesperson speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP.

Earlier, Russia condemned Washington plan to target IS militants in Syria, saying it would consider air strikes an “act of aggression” if carried out without a UN mandate and the assent of the regime of Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad.

The US has already launched limited air strikes against IS in Iraq at the request of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

IS launched its offensive on Iraq from its heartland of north-eastern Syria, capturing key Sunni towns and cities such as Mosul and Tikrit.

It has now declared a “caliphate” that straddles the Iraqi-Syrian border and represents a greater landmass than that of the United Kingdom.

According to the UN, over 1.6 million people have been displaced by conflict in Iraq this year while 850,000 people fled their homes in August alone.

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