Business will not be affected by politics: Qatar energy minister

The Gulf state witnessed what many describe as an “unprecedented” wave of criticism in the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar’s business will not be affected by politics as long-term energy deals mutually benefit the buyers and sellers, Qatari energy minister Saad Al-Kaabi told CNN on Wednesday.

“If you look at all the statements that came out from Qatar, from our leadership, from our position on energy and business, we have always separated our business dealings from our politics,” Al-Kaabi, who is also QatarEnergy’s CEO, said.

The Qatari official’s comments came in response to a question over a major liquified natural gas (LNG) deal the Gulf state signed with Germany on Tuesday. Under the deal, Germany will receive LNG from Qatar starting from 2026 for 15 years.

Al-Kaabi said that the deal also marked “the first ever long-term LNG supply agreement to Germany”. The agreement comes as Europe scrambles to secure alternative energy sources in light of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

The signing also came following criticism that Doha has faced from Germany in the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as various Western media outlets appeared to vilify the country.

Last month, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser criticised Qatar’s human rights record in an interview with local German broadcaster ARD network, ahead of her planned trip to Doha. 

“We would look for these [long-term deals] to outlast governments, to outlast CEO’s and ministers like me and it’s something that would serve the people,” Al-Kaabi noted, commenting generally on its deals

He added that “securing a long-term supply is beneficial for both sides.”

World Cup criticism

Faesar’s comments triggered a spat between Qatar and Germany, which saw the former summon Berlin’s envoy to Doha, Dr. Claudius Fischbach. Qatar handed him an objection memo to express its “disappointment and complete rejection and condemnation” of Faeser’s remarks.

The German top diplomat then told the press that she acknowledged the “very good laws” and reforms that have been implemented in the last few years. She also said her comments were “misinterpreted”.

Last week, the German minister was spotted at the stadium during the Germany vs Japan match wearing the “OneLove” armband that advocates for the rights of the LGBTQ community. FIFA had banned athletes from wearing it on the pitch as any modification to sports attire required its pre-approval.

Germany’s team covered their mouths in their first World Cup game to protest FIFA’s banning the armband.

The move came amid ongoing criticism mainly driven by the West over Qatar’s hosting of the tournament, citing its alleged violations of workers’ rights and its stance on the LGBTQ issues.

Several officials have alleged that racist motives are behind the anti-Qatar campaign, which has overshadowed major reforms made by Doha.

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