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‘Another blatant example of double standards’: Qatar reviews investments in London after ad ban

After the transport authority in London banned Qatar’s ads on the Tube, buses, and taxis, Qatar is now reviewing its London investments.

Sky News was informed by a source familiar with the review that Transport for London’s decision to cancel the World Cup is “another blatant instance of double standards” and virtue signalling in order to score cheap political points. This is the event which the Gulf nation is hosting.

Qatar reacted angrily to the TfL decision and said that it had been “interpreted as a message by the mayor’s offices that Qatari businesses are not welcome in London”.

TfL’s decision comes amid concerns about the state’s LGBT+ rights policy and how it treats migrants workers. There were also deaths of construction workers during the preparations for the competition.

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Qatar has made homosexuality illegal.

After seven football associations from seven countries (including England and Wales), abandoned plans for some players wearing OneLove armbands, criticism of the nation intensified.

These armbands were intended to be worn as a symbol of solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

Qatar: More

The football associations stated that they would not risk “sporting sanctions” to defend the principle. Star players such as Harry Kane of England and Gareth Bale of Wales could face an immediate yellow card and possibly a ban from matches.

After just two games, the Qatari team was eliminated from the tournament. It lost both its group matches and is still playing against the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Through its sovereign wealth fund, Qatar is one the largest investors in London.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which owns Harrods department store, Shard skyscraper, and is co-owner at Canary Wharf.

Image: Harrods department store is owned by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Pic: AP

The Gulf state also holds the Savoy and Grosvenor House Hotels, a 20% stake at Heathrow Airport, and 14% in Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.

Sky News was informed by a source familiar with the Qatar review that the TfL ad ban had been banned: “The Qataris view this as a contradiction to London’s political leaders.”

“At a moment when other investors are withdrawing from London due to economic instability the decision was interpreted by the mayor’s office as a message that Qatari businesses are not welcome in London.”

According to the source, this is despite the fact that the mayor has benefited from Qatar’s investments and the calls of his colleagues to encourage further London investment. This includes as part Qatar’s June commitment to invest another PS10bn in Britain.

Image: London’s Shard skyscraper. Pic by AP


“All current and future London investment reviewed”

According to the source, “Following this decision, Qataris have begun a review on all their current and future investment in London. They are also looking at other UK cities and home countries for potential investments. This decision could be more attractive to Qataris because of London’s recent economic instability and possible recession.”

TfL spokesperson said that it had provided “further guidance” to its advertising partners and brands ahead of the World Cup. This included suggestions on advertising that was acceptable for the tournament, as well as ensuring that football fans have the chance to support their teams.

“Each advertisement campaign is being reviewed individually.”

Continue reading:

After OneLove armbands are abandoned, Supermarket re-equips its sponsorship team

FIFA allows rainbow flags and hats to be worn at the Qatar World Cup stadium in Uturn

In 2019, Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, asked TfL for an evaluation of how it handles sponsorship and advertising from countries with antiLGBT+ laws.

This led to 11 countries, including Qatar and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, posting ads. These 11 countries either have the death penalty for same-sex acts, or may impose such penalties.

TfL admitted that ads referencing Qatar were approved for the network’s platform since 2019.

However, the organization moved to enforce a total prohibition this week.


Promoting travel to Qatar is ‘not allowed’

TfL stated that advertising that promotes Qatar tourism or Qatar as a desirable destination will not be accepted.

TfL stated that advertising featuring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo and advertising that encourages people to view the matches via streaming or TV is acceptable.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan’s office stated that TfL evaluates every advertising campaign in their network on an individual basis. This is consistent with its advertising policy. TfL provided additional guidance to advertising partners prior to the World Cup.

“There are many instances when an advertisement may be deemed unacceptable. The mayor of London, a vocal supporter for the rights of LGBTQ+ Londoners in 2019, requested TfL review its policy regarding advertisements that refer to countries that criminalize same-sex relationships. Before appearing on the network, they will be subject to strict scrutiny from TfL.

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