upset with London, Doha threatens to withdraw UK investments

British activists protest against Qatar's crackdown on LGBT+ people, in London, November 19, 2022.

Relations between London and Doha have suddenly become strained in recent days. After weeks of British media criticism of the Qatari World Cup, which led to the emirate’s adverts being banned on London’s Tube and buses, authorities in the emirate are threatening to withdraw their investments from the British capital. The information was revealed on Friday November 25 by the FinancialTimes and confirmed at World by a source close to the Doha leaders. “The Qataris have decided to review their investments in London. They keep good relations with the British Conservative government, but they will redirect their investments to other cities in the kingdom.says this source.

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The straw that broke the camel’s back came from Transport for London (TfL), the British capital’s public transport authority. Since 2019, at the request of Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, who chairs it, it is supposed to ban advertisements from countries imposing the death penalty for homosexuality. Qatar is – along with ten other states – on the list to which the London authorities refer. In fact, advertisements for the emirate continued to appear regularly on the Tube and on London buses.

But, due to the “increased sensitivity” of public opinion on the question of LGBT+ in Qatar, in particular after the International Football Federation (FIFA) refused to wear an armband calling for the fight against discrimination requested by several European teams, TfL has hardened the application of this rule. World Cup advertisements are allowed, “so that fans do not miss the opportunity to support their team”but not those encouraging tourism in Qatar.

Critics instead of the opening ceremony

Asked by The world, the Qatari authorities have formally denied that homosexuality is punishable by death in their country. According to a recent report by the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch, the Qatari penal code punishes extra-marital relations, including relations between people of the same sex, with a maximum of seven years in prison.

The officials of the emirate deplore the treatment of the Mondial by the British media, which they perceive as a campaign of deliberate denigration. The BBC, which has the rights to part of the matches, did not broadcast the opening ceremony on its main channel (BBC1). It wasn’t a boycott per se, since the celebrations were accessible on its website or on its secondary channels, but it was a way of distancing oneself from the event.

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