DOHA: H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson, Qatar Foundation (QF), has rejected criticisms against Qatar with regard to 2022 FIFA World Cup, saying they are part of an orchestrated campaign.
“Why were we all of a sudden under the spotlight? We understand that this has been done according to a certain agenda,” Sheikha Moza said in an interview with The Financial Times published on Friday.
On the issue of labour rights in Qatar, she said QF worked on a charter the government is adopting for the country. “But why single out Qatar? What about the way migrants are treated in Europe? …I see the problem is of a bigger scale than our problems here because our migrants, they come and go . . . but the migrants [in Europe] are supposed to be part of their society, and they are ill-treated.
“We’re portrayed in the media as rich people who have a lot of money and don’t know what to do with it. We are blessed with our wealth but we know how to deal with this wealth,” she said in reply to a query.
When suggested by the interviewer that it might have been much cheaper to send Qataris to be educated abroad, rather than spending billions of dollars bringing foreign university campuses to Doha, Sheikha Moza said, “The vision is really to build an infrastructure for a knowledge-based society… I’m creating an ecosystem [that] needs pillars, and the pillars are the academies and research institutions.” She said it was her idea to rationalise the QF budget. “I’m trying to make everyone understand that it’s not an open account anymore ... We started without knowing how much it was going to cost us. Today we know.”
To another criticism that media in Qatar “does little more than parrot the government line,” Sheikha Moza said, “I agree the media is not developed as we want, but things are changing, maybe slowly but steadily. We know change is going to happen anyway. We’re trying to manage change, so when it happens our young people understand and know how to deal with it.” Asked why she never took up the cause of women’s issues in the Arab world, she said, “You should not look to one segment of society and focus on it... If you want to teach women you have to teach men as well. If you have educated men they will enable their women to be educated.”
When told that the hope for change in the Arab world has faded, replaced by an almost generalised state of chaos, Sheikha Moza said, “Of course, it’s sad to see that. It’s very daunting, but at the same time I still have hope that things will change. There are setbacks but [the repercussions of the revolts are] not concluded. What happened during this Arab Spring I think is still vibrant in the minds and hearts of people.”