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The trial of Abdullah Ibhais and the labour abuses behind Qatar 2022

Was he sentenced to five years in prison on trumped-up charges because he was defending migrant workers in Qatar? And was all this orchestrated by the organisation responsible for the 2022 World Cup? Havard Melnæs reports

Friday 19 November 2021 16:55 GMT
Qatar’s World Cup organisers have been accused of protecting the country’s reputation, no matter the cost
Qatar’s World Cup organisers have been accused of protecting the country’s reputation, no matter the cost (Getty/Supreme Committee 2022)

On Sunday afternoon of 4 August 2019 there was a real sense of urgency at the Al Bidda tower offices of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy in West Bay, Doha. Approximately 5,000 migrant workers who hadn’t received their salaries for months were striking in the Al Shahaniya district, 40km north-east of the capital, where several labour camps with dire conditions are located. Inside the Supreme Committee (SC), which is in charge of the World Cup that will take place in November and December in Qatar next year, Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi and Mahmoud Qutub, executive director of the SC’s workers welfare programme, were busy discussing with senior media people how to handle their response on the striking migrant workers on a WhatsApp group named Crisis Comms.

The communication and the events that followed it – uncovered for the first time here – will confirm the suspicions of many that the primary purpose of Qatar’s World Cup organisers has been to protect the country’s reputation, no matter the cost to the migrant workers building the tournament or anyone who stands up for their rights.

Just before 4pm on that day, Mahmoud Qutub first wrote that: “Workers from Iskan protested. No SC workers were part of this protest.”

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