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Barcelona’s new Qatar Foundation shirt 16, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Ta da! Here’s Barcelona’s new football strip for next season, complete with the Qatar Foundation logo. Money well spent…?

Hat tip:

Doha News

Qatar withdraws from Yemen mediation 15, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, Yemen.
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Qatar has officially withdrawn from its role as part of the GCC mediation in Yemen, seeking to winkle President Saleh out of power.

Saleh has castigated Qatar on numerous occasions recently as an interfering power. So while the Qatari reason for its departure is that it is angry at the lack of progress – a perfectly valid point – it might help pave the road for Saleh’s exit.

The GCC mediation in recent weeks has picked up somewhat as Yemen has come ever closer to exploding. Their myriad of problems – Houthi rebellions; intra-tribal strife; chronic water shortages; a profound lack of jobs and economic development; Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula; a staggering youth-bulge; and an absolute lack of the most basic democratic structures – are finally becoming un-avoidable for the GCC. Though it must be noted that they have, to this point, avoided Yemen’s fundamental problems studiously and with great will power to date (Qatar aside).

Ministries to hire Qatari drivers 15, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The Qatari Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Art, Culture and Heritage will soon be hiring Qatari nationals as drivers. While to those not familiar with Gulf politics this may seem like the very definition of a non-story, this really is news for Qatar.

Traditionally Qataris shun ‘menial’ jobs like these. They are often looked down on as work only fit for expatriates from, say, the sub continent.

These jobs are specifically being aimed at Qataris will little or no qualifications who even in Qatar’s highly skewed work place cannot not get a job.

Good stuff. Here’s hoping this is the first inkling of a change of pace here in Qatar. Having said that, I’d not like to be the VIP waiting at the airport to be picked up…

The GCC, Yemen & Bahrain: Inside Story 8, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Qatar, The Gulf, Yemen.
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Here are some of my thoughts on the GCC in Yemen and in Bahrain.

Obviously, hindsight is 20:20, but I now realise that I ought to have confronted the Saudi fellow more robustly. Live and learn. Oh, and I need to E N U N C I A T E  some more. And I’m fairly sure that I look nothing like that…and I’m certain that I sound nothing like that either.

KSA refusing overfly for Libyan rebels 8, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
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Reports indicate that the acting foreign minister of the Libyan rebels has cancelled a trip to Qatar after Saudi Arabia refused him permission to overfly the Kingdom.

Traveling with the acting foreign minister were three other members of the rebels National Transitional Council who were held at Cairo Airport for 20 hours (I think we can all relate to that pain) before finally being sent back to Libya.

It seems that Saudi Arabia’s intrinsic fear of change and anger towards that little upstart of a country – Qatar – continues to shine through. Mature stuff.

Hat tip:


2 Muslims kicked off plane + extra irony 7, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Alas the Onion does not report that two US Muslims were kicked off a plane in the States, despite having been cleared through security, as the pilot refused to allow them to stay on the plane…wait for it…they were on their way to a conference on prejudice against Muslims in North Caroline.

Once again, this is, apparently, a real news story.

It’s not as bad as it first appears though, as both were wearing traditional Muslim garb…oh, wait…

Hat tip:

@carol_gallo & @m_clem & @blakehounshell

On Bin Laden’s burial 7, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Terrorism.
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Clearly, Glenn Beck is a deranged fool who deserved as much sympathy as mockery, but [I can barely believe I’ve inserted a ‘but’ there] I’m not wholly sure if he didn’t have a teensy, tiny point the other day.

Given that OBL clearly, wholly and profoundly does not represent Islam in any way, shape or form, does it matter whether he had a true Islamic burial or not? Surely he was the absolute opposite of practically all that Islam is about? So on what grounds are people complaining about his burial? Granted, I would not go as far as Beck would (you’ll be pleased to hear) which involved wrapping him in bacon and burying under an American football field in New Jersey, but, well, I just don’t care and – more to the point – don’t really see why Muslims would care either. Indeed, surely he apostatized himself many a year ago?

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Saleh on Qatar’s Mid East conspiracy web 7, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, Yemen.
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Yemen’s President Saleh gives an absurd interview to Russia Today, during which it – quelle surprise – slavishly bobs its head at appropriate times. The best bit is Salah’s broadside against Qatar which is – of course – involved in a web of conspiracy theories across the Middle East.

Today, Qatar is financing the chaos and unrest in Yemen, Syria, Egypt and, perhaps, all over the Arab world. They have lots of money, but a small population, and they simply don’t know how to spend so much money. They want to be a significant country, though – in the Persian Gulf and in the region in general. To that end, they are using the Al Jazeera TV channel. As you may know, many presenters of this channel have resigned following their disagreement with the policies of the state.

Qatar to sell gas to Israel ‘below cost price’? 7, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Qatar.

There have been various rumblings recently that Qatar will soon be selling gas to Israel. Partly to make up for any lack of gas coming from Egypt and partly because Qatar have been trying to sell gas to Israel for decades.

One of the more alarmist stories, so to speak, notes that Qatar may well be selling gas to Israel soon “below cost price”. If a deal like this comes to fruition, many will suggest that Qatar is doing this under US pressure. Indeed, this would make sense. However, I’m not so sure. Not only are US-Qatari relations getting significantly better now by themselves; not only does Qatar not really need good US relations (indeed, it’s managed perfectly well with poor American relations for years now) but Qatar has on many on occasion sought independently to resuscitate its relations with Israel.

After the Israeli trade office closed after Operation Cast Lead, there have been at least two Qatari gambits to Israeli to solicit them to reopen it in return for access to Gaza for humanitarian goods. Both were rejected by Israel.

So why does Qatar seemingly so often seek Israeli support, particularly when it, at the very least, causes friction within the GCC and with Qatar and Iran?

– It’s the right thing to do. I’ve talked about this before, but there is something of a belligerent, bloody-minded streak to Qatar’s foreign policy. Despite the apparent drawbacks of a policy, if Qatar’s elite genuinely thinks that it is the right thing to do then, ceteris paribus, it will be done. To my mind, restarting relations with Israel is a sensible, mature and intelligent thing to do.

– Limelight. Many a time have I prattled on about this. Qatar courts international public opinion frequently and with great success. Interestingly, in such a case, they are clearly not courting Arab public opinion, the majority of which would – presumably – be against such normalisation. Hence, they are therefore playing to the Western crowd, to some degree, with this policy.

– Business. Israel is the best run and most advanced economy in the Middle East. If it’s true that Qatar is using its gas as a loss-leader (which I doubt…) then someone must, to my mind, have their eye on a larger trading prize, so to speak, with Israel.

Resuming 7, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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So I’m back. Good to see that I’ve not missed any great stories in the past couple of weeks.