Qatar’s image and foreign media: A letter to FM

February 18, 2014 - 4:49:54 am

Two days ago, The Guardian reported that at least 400 Nepalese construction workers have died in Qatar as the nation prepares to host the World Cup in 2022. This is not the first time the British daily has reported about such deaths, and will not be the last, and The Guardian is not the only Western newspaper doing so. As we get closer to 2022, the pressure on Qatar will mount and the labour situation will be under increasing spotlight, in the same way as South Africa was under the media scanner in the run-up to the World Cup which it hosted in 2010. 

What Qatar is witnessing is the destructive power of the media. A series of reports appearing in the international media — both print and electronic, Arabic and English – is tarnishing our image. These reports are not quoting any official sources, and reading them, one would think the media are more interested in the welfare of migrant workers than their countries and embassies here.

We cannot completely stop this negative coverage, but can definitely try to minimise it by setting up media offices at our embassies in major countries. One of the main reasons for the negative coverage is our lack of communication with the media. In fact, the communication gap is widening. And we have failed to project Qatar’s point of view.

The primary objective of these media offices should be to open a channel of communication with the foreign media to give them the Qatari perspective.  We can find that in almost all the Western and Arab media reports, there is no Qatari point of view. 

These media offices will be able to build a positive image for Qatar, help dispel misunderstandings, give the correct picture and identify the motives behind anti-Qatar reports and take appropriate measures.

Only doctors can treat diseases. Similarly, only media professionals can handle the media. Our Foreign Minister H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah needs to give it a serious thought.  The Peninsula


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