Qatari runner Abdalelah Haroun, who won a bronze medal at the 2017 world championships, died Saturday in a traffic incident, according to the Qatar Athletics Federation. He was 24.
“Haroun died in a car accident in Doha,” the federation’s secretary-general, Mohammed Issa al-Fadala, told AFP.
“He was in a rehabilitation programme after recovering from an injury (in preparation) to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Qatar sports and athletics, on a global level, lost a great hero.”
The Qatar Olympic Committee also mourned the loss on Saturday.
“Team #Qatar sprinter and world 400m bronze medalist Abdalelah Haroun died today,” it posted on Twitter — along with a black-and-white picture of the athlete holding a bouquet of flowers and the Qatari flag.
Haroun, of Sudanese origins, first represented Qatar in 2015, stealing the spotlight in his early days by recording remarkable times over 400m.
Haroun won his world bronze in 44.48sec behind South African winner Wayde van Niekerk and Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas.
Haroun also won silver at the 2016 world indoor championships in Portland and gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Qatar’s finance minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi has been arrested over alleged abuse of power and misuse of public funds, state media said on Thursday.
While there have been previous high-level arrests in corruption cases in Qatar, official sources said Emadi is the highest-profile figure to face such allegations under the current rule of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
“The attorney general ordered the arrest of Minister of Finance Ali Shareef al-Emadi (to) question him on what was mentioned in reports regarding crimes related to civil service that involved damage to public money, abuse of function, and abuse of power,” state media said.
The official Qatar News Agency said that an investigation had been launched, but did not give any further details.
Emadi has served as finance minister since 2013. He is also the president of the executive board of the national carrier Qatar Airways and chairman of Qatar National Bank’s board.
One Qatar-based diplomat said “the arrest was unexpected”.
“It is always good to see governments upholding their laws and cracking down on corruption and abuse of power,” the diplomat added.
Another Doha-based diplomat told AFP: “This is actually great, it shows Qatar is taking corruption seriously — if that is what it is found to be — and helps build the image of the rule of law being complied with.”
Gas-rich Qatar is one of the smallest Arab states with a population of 2.8 million, most of whom are foreigners.
Olajide Omotayo bowed has crashed out of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub taking place in Doha, Qatar in the second stage of the preliminary round.
Omotayo, on Sunday, set an African record as the first player from the continent to win a match at the WTT tournament after beating Kazakhstan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev in the first stage of the preliminary round with players from Egypt and Algeria tasting defeats in all their matches.
Pitched against the best player in the German Bundesliga, Sweden’s Anton Kallberg, the 2019 African Games champion showed class against his opponent despite going 2-0 (11-8, 11-3) down in the tie, Omotayo fought back with 11-9, 11-7 wins to put the match at 2-2. Even in the deciding game, Omotayo was leading 7-5 before surrendering the match to his European counterpart at 11-7 to exit the competition from the preliminary round.
“It was not easy after a year of not playing any official match but I am happy with my performance. All I need to do now is to concentrate on what I did not do right and try to improve that aspect. With this tournament I gained more confidence going into the next tournament. I hope to watch more matches of top players in readiness for another tournament later this week in Doha,” Omotayo said.
Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh were also not lucky in their matches as they were bundled out from the same stage of the competition by their European counterparts.
2019 Nigeria Open revelation Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw remains the only African that progressed to the third stage of the preliminary after a convincing 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-6) win over Romania’s Sipos Rares.
And to be sure of competing alongside Quadri Aruna in the main draw, Diaw will have to overcome Russia’s Kirill Skachkov on Tuesday Match 2.
Aruna who is the only ranked African in the top 20 seeded players is shaping up for the main draw expected to kick off on Wednesday Match 3 as the organisers unveiled the new show court tables expected to be used for the main draw event of the tournament.
The $200,000 prize-money tournament is the first official WTT event with 298 players from 66 countries participating.
David Barclay, the secretive British billionaire whose portfolio included The Daily Telegraph newspaper and The Ritz hotel, has died aged 86 after a short illness, his newspaper reported Wednesday.
Barclay and his twin Frederick, described by the daily as “identical in appearance, lifestyle and often even in dress”, built a vast business empire from shipping to retail.
“The Barclay brothers operated as one throughout their active business career while doing their utmost to avoid personal publicity and discourage media scrutiny,” the broadsheet added.
Among those paying tribute to David Barclay was a former employee, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made his name on the newspaper as a Brussels-bashing Europe correspondent, and later a columnist.
“Farewell with respect and admiration to Sir David Barclay who rescued a great newspaper created many thousands of jobs across the UK and who believed passionately in the independence of this country and what it could achieve,” Johnson tweeted.
The Barclay brothers entered the media industry in 1992 when they bought The European, a weekly newspaper launched two years earlier by the media magnate Robert Maxwell.
They later bought The Scotsman daily before finally realising their ambition of owning Conservative bastion The Daily Telegraph in 2004.
The brothers, long advocates of small government and low taxes, were strong supporters of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, putting her up in their plush Ritz in London during her final days.
They were born into a large working-class Scottish family in London in 1934 and left school at 14 to pursue their joint business ambitions, making their names initially in the property market.
“They are very effective stealth buyers,” one financier told the Telegraph. “They come out of nowhere and move quickly.”
The brothers, based on the Channel Island of Sark, became embroiled in a rare public row last year over the sale of The Ritz to a brother-in-law of the ruler of Qatar, which ended up in court.
They were knighted in 2000, kneeling side by side before Queen Elizabeth II in the first double knighthood ceremony in the modern era.
David Barclay, who died on Sunday, was married twice and leaves behind four sons.
Qatar’s foreign minister said on Friday that there had been some progress to resolve the Gulf crisis which has pitted a regional group of nations against his country.
Saudi led its allies — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — to cut ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of backing radical Islamist movements and Iran, charges Doha denies.
They subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft, and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.
“We have achieved certain progress at a certain point of time more than a year ago, and then things have slowed,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome.
“Right now, there are some movements that we hope will put an end (to) this crisis,” he said without giving details.
“We believe that Gulf unity is very important for the security of the region. This needless crisis needs to end based on mutual respect.”
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is reported to have raised the Gulf crisis and pushed for progress towards ending the spat during a visit to Qatar Wednesday.
Few details have been made public about Kushner’s trip, which could have been his last chance to press diplomatic issues in the region that has been a focal point for the outgoing Trump administration.
Saudi Arabia’s closure of its airspace has forced Qatar Airways aircraft to fly over Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival and long-time adversary of Washington, paying significant overflight fees to Tehran in the process.
The New York Times has reported that Qatar pays $100 million annually to fly over the Islamic republic, citing diplomatic sources.
US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in November that allowing Qatari planes to fly over Saudi Arabia via an “air bridge” was a priority for the outgoing Trump administration.
Qatar has repeatedly said it is open to talks without preconditions, though has not signalled publicly it would compromise on the 13 demands of the boycotting countries.
Past mediation efforts led by Kuwait have yielded no results.
Qatar’s ruler said Tuesday that a long-delayed vote for the country’s policy reviewing chamber will be held in October 2021, marking the Gulf emirate’s first national election.
The currently un-elected Shura Council advises the absolute ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on draft laws but does not create its own legislation and can be overruled by a simple decree.
October’s vote would be Qatar’s first national election although Sheikh Tamim did not give details on who would be permitted to vote or who would be able to stand.
Qataris have previously been able to cast ballots on constitutional reforms and in elections to a nationwide municipal council.
“The Shura Council elections will be held in October of next year to strengthen the traditions of the Qatari shura, with wider participation by citizens,” the emir said in a speech to open the 49th session of the council.
Elections to the council, required under the country’s 2004 constitution, have been postponed repeatedly and the body’s members have instead been directly appointed by the emir.
Qatar has undergone cautious reform on issues including democracy, worker rights and representation of women since Sheikh Tamim came to power in 2013.
“We are taking an important step in strengthening the Qatari consultative traditions and developing the legislative process with the participation of a wider range of citizens,” Sheikh Tamim said.
“We have our solid system rooted in the structure of our society and… it is not a multi-party system, but rather an emirate system based on established traditions of fair and rational governance.”
Australia revealed Wednesday that female passengers on 10 planes flying out of Doha were forced to endure “appalling” physical examinations, as Qatar expressed regret for the distress caused to the women.
The Gulf emirate had already been facing a huge hit to its reputation after reports emerged that women were removed from a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight and forced to undergo vaginal inspections on October 2.
The searches were carried after a newborn baby had been abandoned at Doha airport. Qatar’s government said Wednesday in its first account of the events that the baby had been wrapped in plastic and left to die in a rubbish bin.
But Australia continued to pile pressure on Qatar, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne announcing that the number of planes targeted was much greater than a single flight.
She told a Senate committee that women on “10 aircraft in total” had been subject to the searches, including 18 women — including 13 Australians — on the flight to Sydney.
AFP understands one French woman on the Sydney-bound plane was also among them.
Payne did not detail the destinations of the other flights, adding she was unaware if any Australian women were on those planes.
Payne had already described the incidents as “grossly disturbing” and “offensive”.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed into the controversy on Wednesday, describing the treatment of the women as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.
“As a father of a daughter, I could only shudder at the thought that anyone would, Australian or otherwise, would be subjected to that,” he said.
Qatar is a conservative Muslim monarchy, where sex and childbirth out of wedlock are punishable by jail.
Ahead of its hosting of football’s World Cup in 2022, it has struggled to reassure critics that its promises on women’s rights, labour relations, and democracy are credible.
– ‘Distress’ –
Facing potentially devastating commercial and reputational damage, Qatar’s government released a statement Wednesday to explain its version of events while promising to ensure the future “safety, security and comfort” of passengers.
“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action,” the statement.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani had ordered an investigation and the results would be shared with international partners, it added.
However, the statement did not specifically detail that women had been forcibly examined, only referring to a “search for the parents”.
The statement said the newborn baby was a girl and had been “concealed” in a plastic bag and buried under garbage in the bin.
“The baby girl was rescued from what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her. The infant is now safe under medical care in Doha,” it said.
Human Rights Watch called Wednesday for the airport incident to trigger much greater reforms to protect women.
“In Qatar and across the Gulf region, sexual relations outside of wedlock are criminalised, meaning a pregnant woman who is not married, even if the pregnancy is the result of rape, may end up facing arrest and prosecution,” the watchdog said in a statement.
“Qatar should prohibit forced gynaecological exams and investigate and bring to account any individuals who authorised any demeaning treatment. It should also decriminalise sex outside of wedlock.”
Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that has maintained flights to Australia since the country closed its international border early in the pandemic and restricted the return of its own citizens.
Qatar’s Football Association fined former Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez and several other top-flight players and staff $2,700 each for breaching coronavirus rules, it said in a statement on Thursday.
Xavi, head coach of Qatari side Al-Sadd, revealed at the end of July that he had contracted the virus but just days later he said he had returned home and to work.
The penalty, which included an official warning from the league, was because of “non-compliance with the Ministry of Public Health’s safety protocols including breaching a home quarantine pledge signed by him”, the statement said.
Al-Sadd players Hammam al-Amin and Abdul Karim Hassan also faced fines of 10,000 riyals ($2,700) and warnings from the QFA’s disciplinary committee, as did players and staff from several other Qatari teams.
It is not clear if the sanctions related to the two-week mandatory quarantine period that Qatari authorities applied to those returning to the country at the height of the pandemic.
The quarantine period has since been reduced to one week for those returning to Qatar from countries deemed “low-risk”.
The Qatar Stars League resumed competition on July 24 with strict social distancing rules, routine testing of players and staff and a blanket ban on media attendance.
Matches were halted in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
More than 4 percent of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have had coronavirus, with 112,092 cases reported since the start of the pandemic giving the tiny Gulf state one of the highest per capita total infection rates.
However the gas-rich country has posted just 178 deaths meaning it has one of the world’s lowest virus death rates and 108,831 people have recovered from COVID-19, according to official statistics.
Qatar will seek to host the 2032 Olympic Games, it said on Monday, joining a crowded field and raising questions about scorching summer temperatures and underwhelming attendances at past events.
India, Australia’s Queensland state, the Chinese city of Shanghai and a potential joint bid between South and North Korea are also being touted for the 2032 summer games.
Under changes put forward in 2014, interested countries submit a request to join the non-committal “continuous dialogue”, which Qatar confirmed to AFP it had done via a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.
“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a meaningful dialogue with the IOC’s Future Host Commission to explore our interest further and identify how the Olympic Games can support Qatar’s long-term development goals,” Qatar Olympic Committee president Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani told AFP in a statement.
Qatar unsuccessfully bid to host the 2016 and 2020 games, having proposed to host the former in October without first clearing it with the IOC.
It won a waiver to propose hosting the 2020 games, a joint bid with Baku, Azerbaijan, between September 20 and October 20, but failed to make the shortlist.
The 2020 games, postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, were awarded to Japan, which also experiences searing summer temperatures, leading officials to schedule events early in the morning when conditions are coolest.
“Qatar has earned the reputation of a world-class destination for major sporting events,” added Sheikh Joaan, brother of Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
“It is this proven track-record and wealth of experience, along with our desire to use sport to promote peace and cultural exchange, that will form the basis of our discussions with the Commission.”
Summer temperatures can reach 50 degrees celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the nation which abuts the Arabian desert. Heat and humidity were major issues during the road races at last year’s World Athletics Championships held in Doha.
The event was shifted to late September and October over concerns about the gas-rich state’s climate and marathons and race walks were held at midnight.
Even so, humidity hovered around 73 percent and the temperature was 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) for much of the women’s marathon and images of the runners collapsing and gasping for air led to questions over Qatar’s suitability to host outdoor events outside the cooler winter months.
Perhaps the most stinging off-track criticism of the 10-day World Athletics event was sparked by the spectacle of a near-empty stadium during the opening days, raising fears for World Cup attendances in 2022 and at other sporting events.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe said he was more worried about conditions at the Tokyo Olympics, where summer temperatures have pushed organisers to schedule events for the early morning.
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup after a bid process that has been attacked by some European nations and media outlets as corrupt, although Doha insists it won fairly.
Discriminatory labour practices and human rights issues facing the migrant labourers building infrastructure for 2022 have been subject to intense scrutiny and criticism since Qatar won the bid in 2010.
“We in the International Olympic Committee are happy with the huge interest in the 2032 Summer Olympics, 12 years before the launch of the games. We are in a great position,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview with Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN on Friday.
“We made sure that our new approach to this kind of intentions works well. We launched a dialogue between the interested national Olympic committees and a special commission in the IOC. Naturally, we welcome Qatar to join this dialogue.”
If Qatar were successful, it would be the first time the event had been held in the Middle East.
Former Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez signed on as head coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd for one more year Sunday, putting to bed rumours of an imminent move back to the Spanish side.
There had been media speculation in recent days that World Cup winner Xavi, 40, was being lined up to replace Quique Setien at Barcelona at the end of the season.
Hernandez turned down an approach in January after Barca sacked Ernesto Valverde, which led to the surprise appointment of Setien.
“I am happy to continue with Al-Sadd, and the team’s goal will always be to compete for all titles,” he said in a statement on the club’s website which added that his contract had been renewed for a second season.
“(My) complete focus in this current period is to fully equip the players for the upcoming domestic and Asian competitions.”
The relationship between Barcelona’s board, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the players has proved tense, with Lionel Messi’s public criticism of technical secretary Eric Abidal among a number of off-field controversies.
“I am clear that I want to return to Barca, I am very excited,” Xavi said in March when asked if a change of board would be needed for it to happen.
“In the dressing room there can’t be a negative or toxic atmosphere.”
Xavi came through the Barcelona academy before breaking the record for most appearances for the senior side, winning four Champions League trophies and eight La Liga titles.
He joined Al-Sadd as a player in 2015 before being appointed coach last July.