Doha and the hockey fans

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

Published: Updated:

In order to break the quartet’s boycott, Qatar has resorted to almost everything such as hacking, propagating false news and launching costly public relations campaigns. However, they have all ended pathetically without literally achieving anything.

It resorted to Jewish communities considering their strong financial and political influence in Washington, and we have seen delegations that consist of prominent figures arrive in Doha. In January, five figures who are influential in Jewish circles, such as the famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz, arrived in Doha.

The visit was aimed at launching a campaign to enhance Qatar’s reputation but it quickly failed and Doha did not make any benefits worth mentioning despite the high cost it paid. Those who benefitted from Qatar mentioned it in a couple of their statements then forgot about it completely.

Although results were disappointing, Qatar has, due to its blind despair, turned into a loose bank whose doors are wide open. Qatar continues to pay money to figures who make fake promises and exaggerate their capabilities to exert pressure to end the boycott but nothing happens as the boycott continues and Qatar’s image as the terrorists’ happy land has not changed.

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Few days ago, two prominent public relations figures announced they have completely cut their relations with Doha. One of them said Qatar’s image as a sponsor of terrorism will not change because Qatar has not taken any real steps to cleanse its reputation.

The country’s Emir receives Qaradawi, the mufti of suicide bombings, and its funds end up in the pockets of Sunni and Shiite terrorists. Those who are on its terror list participate in marathons and hold public celebrations so how can Qatar be defended?

These two PR figures thus viewed this as a losing cause that harms their reputation because it linked them to a suspicious party involved in supporting terrorism. They thus washed their hands off it.

Qatar continues to pay money to figures who make fake promises and exaggerate their capabilities to exert pressure to end the boycott

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

Diplomatic efforts

Politico, which published the report, said the move came as a blow to Qatar’s diplomatic efforts. This comes as a new failed step as after all the expensive contracts it offered, the person assigned to defend Qatar said he failed in a mission that has been impossible from the start and which others failed to accomplish.

This lends credence to one of the factors behind the boycott, which is neutralizing the fake PR game. A country cannot change its image via an advertising campaign in newspapers or by bribing celebrities and players with generous contracts when all it does is the complete opposite of the image it wants others to see.

The most pathetic behavior in PR campaigns – to win the Americans’ minds and hearts through money – was Doha’s move of extending the metro operation hours in Washington for one more hour at night after a hockey game between Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning so people can return home early. It’s a funny strategy, aimed at gaining the admiration of hockey fans that do not know where Qatar is on the map.

The other goal is to gain the amiability of officials in Washington by making the fans of their city’s team happy after saving money on taxi or Uber fares. Of course nothing changed.

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The scene however is revealing. The government which until recently schemed conspiracies and claimed that it’s capable of destroying Arab countries and changing the region is begging for the sentiment of hockey fans and making sure they return home for free!

Qatar has taken all these desperate measures while claiming victory and alleging that the boycott does not concern it and does not affect it. However, we have witnessed the propagation of plenty of deceitful news even by top American officials for the sake of stirring a fuss.

Before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Riyadh, the Qatari-Brotherhood media promoted news that Pompeo will decisively ask the four countries to end the boycott. Pompeo however visited and concluded the visit without evening mentioning Doha once.

Propagating deceitful news, promoting rumors and twisting statements have all become common. All these methods after a year of frequent attempts ended, just like the PR campaigns, with zero results.

Hacking operations

The same happened with the continuous hacking operations. A year ago, a group that calls itself GlobalLeaks hacked the email of UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba and sent his e-mails to a number of dailies and news websites, including the famous Daily Beast.

Qatar’s fingerprints can be seen all over this operation as seen by the style and goals and the media coverage later. GlobalLeaks said it wasn’t a hacking operation and as per the common Qatari denial approach, claimed that it got the e-mails from a lobbying group in Washington.

It is an obvious lie because all evidence shows that the e-mail was hacked as photos of the e-mails were taken using a digital camera. The goals are also Qatari and aim to plant division between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and publicly expose Otaiba’s “scandals” and show the UAE as an anti-Islamic country.

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As for the media coverage, it was handled by well-known as well as well masked Qatari media outlets, which engaged in live coverage and launched vulgar propaganda campaigns about a completely made-up subject.

The results of the hacking and the propaganda campaign backfired and disappointed Doha and its hired hackers’ expectations. This is not the only incident as there were also other hacking operations.

The most recent one was hacking the e-mail of Elliott Broidy – one of the most prominent symbols of American President Donald Trump’s campaign – and of his wife. The leaked documents were sent to media outlets including the New York Times.

All Qatari attempts are disappointing and pathetic and confirm once again that the boycott was a noble and brave step to shut down the terrorists’ bank and neutralize the extremists’ landfill after the region has been poisoned for decades; but not anymore.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.