Archive for category Qatar

Israel company admits spying on Emir of Qatar

January 14, 2019

The CEO of Israeli spyware company NSO Group has admitted that its software was used to spy on the Emir of Qatar.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend, Shalev Hulio admitted that his company’s product was used to spy on Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, as well as Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

The interview disclosed that NSO’s “Pegasus” software – which can be used to remotely infect a target’s mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device – was used to intercept phone calls and text messages made by both the Qatari foreign minister and the Emir. These conversations reportedly concerned “hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom to Iran and Hezbollah for the release of several Qataris,” some of which was allegedly sent to the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani.

This spying was seemingly undertaken at the behest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Hulio revealed that the Israeli Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) authorized three deals with the UAE for the sale of NSO software, despite the fact that DECA is only supposed to give authorization for the “purpose of fighting terrorism and crime”.

These deals – allegedly mediated by former senior Israeli defense officials with close ties to a senior Emirati official – raised a total of $80 million in revenue for NSO.

NSO’s Pegasus software has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the product was revealed to be complicit in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Though Hulio stressed in the interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend that “Khashoggi was not targeted by any NSO product or technology, including listening, monitoring, location tracking and intelligence collection,” it appears that Saudi Arabia used NSO software to spy on many of Khashoggi’s friends and associates.

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been at the forefront of these claims, telling the Israeli newspaper: “I do not pretend that NSO is involved in hacking [directly] into Khashoggi’s phone, so their denial does not take us to a different conclusion. The evidence shows that the company’s products were involved in hacking into the phones of [Khashoggi’s] friends Omar Abdel Aziz, Yahya Assiri, and Ghanem Al-Masarir.”

The UAE is also known to have been using NSO’s software for some time. In 2016, Citizen Lab and Apple revealed there were attempts to infect an iPhone owned by the Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. Mansoor had raised the alarm after receiving suspicious text intended to “bait to get him to click on a link, which would have led to the infection of his Apple iPhone 6 and control of the device through a spy software created by the NSO Group”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190114-israeli-company-admits-spying-on-emir-of-qatar/.

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Qatari businessman gives away three cars to celebrate Erdoğan’s election victory

June 28 2018

A Qatari businessman vowed to give away three new cars as gifts to celebrate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election victory while suggesting to rename his country’s traditional camel races as “the Erdoğan race,” Turkish daily Yeni Şafak reported on June 27.

Jarallah bin Hamad al-Salameen, a businessman and participant of Qatar’s annual camel races, had vowed before Turkey’s June 24 elections that he would give away three new cars if Erdoğan wins.

After Erdoğan was elected president in the first round of elections, al-Salameen said he was ready to deliver the cars to the competition committee.

“We congratulate the people of Qatar, everyone who loves Erdoğan and the Islamic world. I am gifting three cars to this competition to mark this occasion,” al-Salameen reportedly said.

“I also propose to rename the camel race as the Erdoğan race,” he added.

Dozens of camels race in Qatar’s traditional races every year in the competition also known as the Race of the Sheiks, as most of the animals are owned by the leading families of the Gulf nation.

Although the tradition dates back to the early years of the Islamic period, the human jockeys were recently replaced by “robot jockeys” affixed to their camel’s backs for safety reasons.

Source: Hurriyet.

Link: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/qatari-businessman-gives-away-three-cars-to-celebrate-erdogans-election-victory-133895.

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Qatar opens courts in Gaza

September 17, 2018

The Qatari envoy yesterday inaugurated the Justice Palace complex in the central Gaza Strip.

Qatari Ambassador Mohamed Al-Emadi, head of the National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, launched the 11 dunam (2.7 acre) site which cost $11 million to build and comprises the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, as well as Appeal, First Instance and Reconciliation courts.Abdul Raouf Al-Halabi, president of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary in the Gaza Strip, praised Qatar’s efforts to complete the project and its continued support to the Palestinian people.

“I am pleased on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the Supreme Council of the Judiciary. We welcome your presence here,” he said.

Al-Halabi explained that this project is a major Palestinian landmark, “to begin through this moment the first stage of the march of judicial development in the Gaza Strip.”

He thanked the Qatari Ambassador and his team for their efforts and support to complete the project.

The National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza is carrying out a number of projects in the Gaza Strip as a part of $407 million grant from His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180917-qatar-opens-courts-in-gaza/.

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Qatar set to be knocked off its position as richest country in the world

August 10, 2018

Qatar is set to be knocked off its perch as the richest country in the world by the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

For several years the gas rich Gulf state held the envious status of the richest country in the world. Its per capita GDP was around $127,600 a year ago, according to the International Monetary Fund and with Luxembourg quite a way off in second place, with $104,003, Qatar’s status seemed to have been safe.

However the global casino hub of Macau has reached parity with Qatar’s GDP per capita and is predicted to outstrip Qatar by 2020, with $143,116 per capita GDP, according to projections from the IMF. The prediction will put Macau ahead of the current No. 1 Qatar, which will reach $139,151 in the same timeframe.

A former Portuguese outpost on the southern tip of China, Macau has become a gambling capital since returning to Chinese control almost two decades ago.

It is the only place in China where casinos are legal, turning it into a magnet for high-rollers from the mainland. Macau’s gross domestic product has more than tripled from about $34,500 per capita in 2001, the IMF data shows.

The wealth gap between the two places is also expected to widen beyond 2020, with Macau’s GDP per capita set to reach $172,681 by 2023, according to data compiled from the April edition of the IMF’s Global Economic Outlook database. Qatar’s, meanwhile, will grow to just $158,117.

Small developed countries or regions are more likely to rank top of world rich lists when there are fewer people to divide the wealth. The per capita calculation works in favor of Macau, whereas the oil-rich nation of Qatar has a population of 2.57 million.

Qatar has also endured a period of sluggish economic growth as a result of sanctions imposed by its Gulf neighbors; Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Doha’s economy has recovered but its ability to maintain the level of growth seen in past is unlikely to be repeated in the foreseeable future under the current climate.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180810-qatar-set-to-be-knocked-off-its-position-as-richest-country-in-the-world/.

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Qatar recruits Jordanians

July 18, 2018

Samir Murad, Jordan’s Labor Minister, and Qatar’s Minister of Management Development, Labor and Social Welfare, Issa al-Naimi announced an agreement, Tuesday, to create 1,000 work places for Jordanians by September, Jordanian news agency Petra reported.

This agreement is part of the Qatari initiative to afford 10,000 work places for the Jordanian youths, the Jordanian minister said.

During a press conference in Doha, Murad said that Qatari government will issue visas for Jordanian job seekers.

Murad went on to say that both the Jordanian and Qatari ministries agreed to form a joint committee to follow up the issue. They will prepare a database for the Jordanian job seekers and make it available to Qatari employers.

Murad said that the Qatari initiative would help decrease unemployment rate in the Kingdom, which has reached 18.5 per cent (280,000).

Murad also said that Jordan would support Qatari efforts in the run up to World Cup 2022.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180718-qatar-recruits-jordanians/.

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South Africa rejects Saudi, UAE pressure to boycott Qatar

July 21, 2018

South Africa has rejected Saudi and UAE pressure to severe relations with Qatar, Al-Khaleej Online reported Pretoria’s envoy to Doha saying.

During a celebration to remember South African freedom icon Nelson Mandela in Doha on Wednesday, Faizel Moosa said that his country rejected such pressure “because it was against the values that Mandela fought for – not to interfere in the others’ internal affairs.”

“Qatari-South African relations are developing continuously,” Moosa said at the event. Commercial exchange between the two countries rose to 70 per cent after the siege imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in June last year, and there would be more mutual investments, he added.

A new station is being built in South Africa to allow for the delivery of Qatar gas, and businessmen from the small Gulf state are investing in South Africa.

He went on to hail Qatar’s role in Africa which has increased following the Emir of Qatar’s recent tour of the region.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180721-south-africa-rejects-saudi-uae-pressure-to-boycott-qatar/.

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Qatar, Iraq sign security cooperation agreement

March 15, 2018

Qatar signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraq to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) has reported.

The agreement aims to enhance security cooperation and exchanging information and experiences between Qatar and Iraq.

“The MoU between the Qatar and Iraq aims at further joint security cooperation and regulates the coordination process between the two countries, as well as the exchange of information and experience, as Iraq accumulates experience in the security field,” QNA quoted the country’s head of public security, Major General Saad Bin Jassim Al Khulaifi, as saying.

He further explained that it will cover all security-related areas, including training and exchange of information in the field of combating terrorism, money laundry, combating counterfeiting, organised crime, drugs and human trafficking as well as all security of ports and airports.

Praising the “close cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” Al Khulaifi noted that the two parties intend to form a joint committee of specialists to follow up and monitor the implementation of the MoU’s provisions.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180315-qatar-iraq-sign-security-cooperation-agreement/.

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Qatar signs Turkey naval military base agreement

March 14, 2018

Qatar has signed an agreement with Turkey to establish a naval base, Khaleej Online reported today.

The agreement came during the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) 2018, which ends today, which was attended by international investors from the US, Europe and China for potential ventures.

Turkey has won a tender to establish the base in northern Qatar, general Hamad Bin Abdullah Al-Futtais Al Marri, commander of Qatar’s joint special forces said. The naval base will include a training center that will primarily take on maritime patrols and monitoring. No other details of the base were revealed.

Turkey will also export six armed, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to Qatar’s armed forces, and give training services to Qatar’s forces by next year. Qatar wishes to purchase the drones for its own surveillance and tactical reconnaissance needs. Turkey will be assisting a long-term strategy to harness defense knowledge with an agreement to establish an academy for Qatar in association with Turkey’s Piri Reis University.

Qatar has taken a strategic decision to increase its defense and regional security amid an ongoing air, land and sea blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The blockade was levied over extremism and terrorism allegations, which Qatar categorically denied as baseless.

Turkey stepped in, providing Qatar with food and medicine essentials.

In early 2018, the Turkish National Security Council finalized a plan to deploy 60,000 armed soldiers to Qatar in accordance to a 2022 defense plan. Some one hundred soldiers are currently based in Qatar’s Al-Udeid military base since the Saudi-led blockade.

Some 30 Turkish companies are participating in Qatar’s DIMDEX exhibition, showcasing modern military technology.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180314-qatar-signs-turkey-naval-military-base-agreement/.

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‘Qatar will not change policy even if blockade never ends’

March 1, 2018

A spokeswoman for the Qatari foreign ministry said yesterday that her country will not change its policy even if the blockade continues forever.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Lulwa Al Khater, made the remarks at the opening session of an international conference organized by the Middle East Dialogue Center in Brussels.

“The siege imposed on Qatar by regional players has accelerated our relations through several axes, the most important of which was the launching of the Qatari-US strategic dialogue,” Al Khater said, adding that the conference in Brussels “is an opportunity to refute the lies spread by the blockade countries and to respond to those who try to discredit Qatar.”

For his part, the Qatari Ambassador to Belgium, Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Khulaifi, said the siege gave Qatar power and it could overcome its consequences quickly, adding that the siege now has only effects on the social side while the state succeeded in maintaining its stability and security.

Al Khulaifi explained that Qatar has succeeded in finding alternatives and strategic partnerships to achieve its ambitions.

According to the ambassador, Doha has investments worth about $2 billion in Turkey, while Ankara will support the Qatari economy and participate in the 2022 World Cup projects.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180301-qatar-will-not-change-policy-even-if-blockade-never-ends/.

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Turkey to deploy 60,000 soldiers in bases abroad, including in Qatar

January 18, 2018

60,000 armed Turkish soldiers will be deployed across four military bases abroad in accordance with a new 2022 plan, The New Khalij reported today.

The Turkish National Security Council finalized the plan yesterday, in order to meet Turkey’s military and commercial interests to support its allies.

Turkey already has 3,000 troops deployed near the Red Sea, in Somalia and a military base in Sudan’s Suakin Island, which is capable of holding some 20,000 military personnel for five years. 200 Turkish soldiers have been deployed in Somalia since October last year, training Somalia’s military.

In addition to some hundred soldiers currently based in Qatar’s Al-Udeid military base since shortly after the blockade on Qatar, Turkey plans to deploy more to fulfill its 2022 plan. The number has not publicly been disclosed.

Qatar announced today that Turkish commercial firms will be given priority for business during the World Cup in 2022, to be held in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

Some 112 companies from a variety of sectors will be attending Expo Turkey by Qatar, co-organized with Turkey’s Independent Industrialists and Business people’s’ Association (MUSIAD). Turkish and Qatari commercial firms have already signed business agreements worth some 60 million dollars.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180118-turkey-to-deploy-60000-soldiers-in-bases-abroad-including-in-qatar/.

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