Stadium builders in Qatar work for seven months on World Cup stadium without salary
Stadium construction workers in Qatar worked for seven months without getting paid for it. That reports human rights organization Amnesty International.
It is said that about a hundred foreign workers are building the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor. The World Cup will take place in Qatar in 2022. The opening match is on November 21. The final is four weeks later, on December 18.
“They are concerned about their families”, said Steve Cockburn, head of the Economy and Social Justice Department at Amnesty International. “Their families depend on the money they send home from Qatar.”
The human rights organization recently raised the matter with the Qatari authorities, the world football association FIFA and the local organizing committee. Amnesty says that a number of employees have now received part of their salary, but that many salaries still need to be paid. …
“This case shows how easy it is still to exploit workers in Qatar, even when building one of the crown jewels of the upcoming FIFA World Cup,” said Cockburn. “For years we have urged Qatar to reform the system, but the change has clearly not come quickly enough.”
Cockburn thinks FIFA might have brought about those changes. “If FIFA had held its World Cup partners to account for the past decade and used its power to push Qatar to completely reform its systems, we wouldn’t hear the same stories of workers’ suffering.”
CONTRACTOR Mercury MENA, which is involved in building the marquee stadium for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup, did not pay its workers, leaving them stranded thousands of miles from home, according to a report released today.
The engineering and plumbing firm owes thousands in pounds of wages to workers from countries where many live on less than £1.50 a day, Amnesty International said.
Those employees helped build projects, including Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, which will host the opening and closing matches of the football tournament.
The company, whose website is now down and offices in Doha are shuttered, has not responded to requests for comment.
“People from all over the world cheering, laughing, touring some of the beautiful stadiums, recreational sites and hotels here … Will they ever think what are the stories behind those structures?” one worker reportedly asked Amnesty.
“I guess not … Blind eyes are common nowadays.”
Amnesty said it had examined the cases of 78 former employees of Mercury MENA, interviewing 44 and analysing documentation of another 34. Of those, 58 came from Nepal, 15 from India and five from the Philippines, Asian nations that send thousands of labourers, taxi drivers and office workers to the Gulf.
Mercury MENA worked on several projects in Qatar, including the stadium, the new Qatar National Library and a hospital and modern accommodation for labourers, Amnesty said.
Workers told Amnesty that the firm owed them on average between £1,039 to £1,873, a huge sum for their families back home. It said one worker was owed nearly £18,959 after over a decade of work.
Some workers found themselves stuck in Qatar without money and unable to leave the country as local laws require workers to get an exit permit supported by their employer before they leave.
Earlier this month, Qatar partially ended that requirement, part of its internationally criticised “kafala” system that ties expatriate workers to a single employer.
“Although today most workers no longer need their employers’ permission to leave the country, they still need a ‘non-objection certificate’ from their employer to change jobs in Qatar. Many employers refuse to provide such certificates and workers are forced to stay until their contracts finish, which can be up to five years.
“Workers who leave their jobs without employer permission can be reported for ‘absconding’, attracting a criminal charge that could lead to arrest and deportation. This is in contravention of international labour laws and standards.”
Amnesty said Mercury MENA’s chief executive told them in 2017 that his firm “had been the victim of unscrupulous business partners resulting in ‘cashflow problems’ and a number of disputes over payments with contractors and clients.”
I hope the team of some small country with not that much money will become world champion. Maybe Iceland, Costa Rica, Panama or Tunisia? That will be a very uphill struggle for those teams against favourite teams with much more money. Yet, maybe, as the saying goes, a football is round and can go in any direction …
Courts Anarchist hails ‘victory for free speech’ in Qatar fight
Sam Tobin reports from the High Court
CLASS WAR activist Ian Bone hailed a “victory for free speech” today after the owners of London’s Shard skyscraper dropped an attempt to block a protest against empty luxury flats.
Mr Bone, 70, posted on Facebook last week announcing “weekly actions” outside the Shard, which is ultimately owned by the Qatari royal family.
He added that “the aim is to occupy the empty apartments” and to “start a mass squatting movement.”
All 10 of the apartments on the Shard’s top floor, worth as much as £50 million each, remain unsold five years after the building was opened.
Teighmore Ltd, which owns the leasehold on the Shard, and LBQ Fielden Limited, the owner of proposed development Shard Place, initially applied for an injunction to stop Mr Bone and “persons unknown” from protesting.
David Forsdick QC, for the companies, said Mr Bone’s statements had “generated some wider interest” which meant there was a “clear risk of trespass” by others.
But Mr Forsdick told the court that the two companies had incorrectly drawn the boundaries of the land and only wanted to prevent occupation of the flats.
He added: “This is not about a right to protest … this simply stops him coming on to our land [and] doing stuff he’s not supposed to do.”
Ian Brownhill, for Mr Bone, said his client’s “principal concern [is] lawfully exercising his right to protest.”
Mr Bone himself insisted that he would not seek to enter the property or “incite in any way” others to do so, an assurance that the court accepted.
Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC, sitting as a High Court judge, said she would grant an injunction in relation to persons unknown given the “risk of trespass.”
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Bone said: “This is a great victory for free speech and class politics.”
He then quoted from an intelligence report on Class War, which said the group “vocally supports, and engages in, civil disobedience, violence and anarchy as acceptable methods of pursuing their objectives.”
Gordon Peters challenged the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a private-public partnership to develop housing that would involve a 50-50 split between the council and private developer Lendlease, but Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed his case entirely.
Zionist Organisation of America needs to come clean about Qatari cash: here.
Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.
In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”
“The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” the statement said. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi.
Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”
The revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington thinkers and policymakers to its side on the issues at the center of its dispute with Qatar.
The conflict has also exposed sharp differences between Trump — who has clearly taken the Saudi and UAE side in a series of tweets and statements — and Tillerson, who has urged compromise and spent most of last week in shuttle diplomacy among the regional capitals that has been unsuccessful so far. …
U.S. intelligence and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. …
In what the [US Donald Trump] administration hailed as a high point of the visit, the Saudis agreed to purchase $110 billion in U.S. arms and signed letters of intent to invest hundreds of billions in deals with U.S. companies.
He had told the Saudis in advance, Trump said in an interview Wednesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, that the agreements and purchases were a prerequisite for his presence. “I said, you have to do that, otherwise I’m not going,” Trump recounted. …
The day after the boycott was announced, Trump indirectly took credit for it. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with King and 50 countries already paying off,” he tweeted. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.” …
Qatar rejected the demands. Tillerson appeared to agree that they were draconian. But when he called for the boycott to be eased, saying it was causing both security and humanitarian hardship, Trump said the measure was harsh “but necessary.” …
Asked about Trump’s tweets and other comments, he [Tillerson] noted that being secretary of state “is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon,” his previous job, “because I was the ultimate decision-maker.”
U.S. HACKERS HELPED UAE SPY ON AL JAZEERA CHAIRMAN A group of American hackers who once worked for U.S. intelligence agencies helped the United Arab Emirates spy on a BBC host, the chairman of Al Jazeera and other prominent Arab media figures during a tense 2017 confrontation pitting the UAE and its allies against the Gulf state of Qatar. The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. [Reuters]
Twitter users blast UAE over Emirates ban on Tunisian women: here.
UAE: human rights defender Obaid Al-Zaabi released over three years after being found innocent: here.
The UK government is being accused of fanning the flames of the Gulf crisis after it included both sides of the dispute in a newly published list of countries identified by officials as “priority markets” for the UK’s £12bn defence industry, Middle East Eye can reveal. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain are listed alongside regional rival Qatar on a list of 46 nations highlighted by Whitehall officials as potentially lucrative markets for weapons.
The deal was in the works for a while — it’s actually part of a larger $21 billion agreement made back in November 2016, in the waning weeks of the Obama administration. This portion of the pact, a $12 billion deal for 36 F-15 planes, was signed by Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday so contracting actions could begin.
Qatar diplomatic crisis: what are Trump’s financial links to the region? Here.
The 10-day ultimatum delivered last week by Saudi Arabia and its allies—Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—to Qatar has dramatically escalated their confrontation with the tiny Persian Gulf state, raising the prospect of military conflict: here.
Gulf confrontation worsens as deadline looms for Saudi ultimatum to Qatar: here.
Just days before the G20 summit in Hamburg, and in the midst of the Qatar crisis, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel traveled to the Arabian Peninsula: here.
Gulf crisis poised to escalate as Saudi-led Qatar ultimatum expires: here.
Middle East: Top Trump fundraiser received cash from UAE adviser ‘to push anti-Qatar laws through Congress’: here.
Qatar’s neighbors issue steep list of demands to end crisis
By JOSH LEDERMAN
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute.
Qatari officials in Doha did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. But the list included conditions that the gas-rich nation had already insisted would never be met, including shutting down Al-Jazeera. Qatar’s government has said it won’t negotiate until Arab nations lift their blockade. The demands were also likely to elicit Qatari objections that its neighbors are trying to dictate its sovereign affairs by imposing such far-reaching requirements.
Only a day earlier, [United States] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had warned the demands must be “reasonable and actionable.” The U.S. issued that litmus test amid frustration at how long it was taking Saudi Arabia and others to formalize a list of demands, complicating U.S. efforts to bring about a resolution to the worst Gulf diplomatic crisis in years.
According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.
They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism;
Cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult. Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup its wealth.
Not only must Qatar shut down the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, the list says, but also all of its affiliates. That presumably would mean Qatar would have to close down Al-Jazeera’s English-language sister network.
Supported by Qatar’s government, Al-Jazeera is one of the most widely watched Arabic channels, but it has long drawn the ire of Mideast governments for airing alternative viewpoints. …
The list also demands that Qatar stop funding a host of other news outlets including Arabi21 and Middle East Eye.
If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued an extraordinary ultimatum to Qatar that sets the stage for a dramatic escalation of the confrontation that began with the imposition of a diplomatic and economic blockade in early June. Qatar has been given 10 days to agree to a sweeping list of 13 demands or face unspecified consequences. Acquiescence would transform the tiny, energy-rich Gulf state into a political vassal of Riyadh: here.
This 20 June 2017 Financial Times video from Britain says about itself:
Barclays, its former chief executive and three other ex-senior executives have been charged with fraud by UK authorities over side-deals struck with Qatar during emergency cash calls to stave off a government bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.
BARCLAYS and four of its former top bankers have been charged with fraud, the first criminal charges to be brought in Britain against a bank over financial crisis deals.
The Serious Fraud Office announced yesterday that it had brought charges of conspiracy to commit fraud against the bank itself and Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, Richard Boath and ex-chief executive John Varley.
It follows a five-year probe into the bank’s emergency fundraising from Qatari investors in 2008 as the group sought to avoid a government bailout during the banking crisis.
Qatari investors — the state-backed Qatar Holding and Challenger Universal — pumped £6.1 billion into Barclays in two fundraisings in 2008.
In November that year, Barclays agreed to issue a £2.4bn loan made available to the State of Qatar.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) slapped a £50 million penalty on the bank in 2013 after finding it had failed to disclose arrangements and fees it paid to the Qatari investors.
The defendants and a bank representative will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on July 3.