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Qatar ‘exile capital of world’ 4, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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There is an excellent article in the Hindustan Times discussing Qatar’s role as a haven for exiles. This stems from Qatar’s offer of nationality (which has now been accepted) to the controversial Indian artist MF Husain. Ruben Banerjee, an Al Jazeera journalist, describes Doha as “the exile capital of the world”.

Famous exiles in Doha include:

  • Sajjad Hussein the ex-wife of the former Iraqi President and their two daughters Raghad and Rana
  • Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya the ex-Mauritania President who was removed in a coup
  • Omar bin Laden, one of Osama Bin Laden’s sons

However, Banerjee does not mention all notable exiles in Doha.

  • Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former Chechen military commander and politician, resided in Doha until his assassination in Doha in 2004
  • Khaled Mishal, the head of Hamas, lived in Doha for a few years and reportedly still owns a house in the capital
  • Speaking of exiles, it is interesting to note that Qatar’s former Emir, Khalifah al Thani, was exiled from Qatar for 9 years after his son and current ruler, Hamad Al Thani, ousted him in a peaceful and seemingly domestically popular coup in 1995. His returned to Doha in October 2004 for the funeral of his wife.

As to why Qatar pursues these types of policies, Banerjee simply states that:

Being in the limelight has been Qatar’s state policy — something that it has pursued relentlessly…Husain has accepted Qatari citizenship and by offering to embrace this Indian artist, Qatar has proven to be bold and different. That is what Brand-Qatar is all about.

Spot on.

If I’ve missed out on any prominent exiles, do let me know. I’m sure there must be a few more tin-pot former African dictators here.