How Qatari media tiptoed around the Barclays scandal

The offices of Barclays in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London. (Reuters)
Updated 16 February 2019
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How Qatari media tiptoed around the Barclays scandal

  • The story of the first major UK criminal trial to emerge from the global financial crisis has yet to make many headlines in Qatar
  • During the fraud trial, the prosecution told the court that the then Qatari Prime Mister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim demanded a personal fee for investing in Barclays

LONDON: The London trial of former Barclays executives accused of fraud over a deal with Qatar during the global banking crisis of 2008 has attracted global media coverage.
The opening of the case at London’s Southwark Crown Court saw a courtroom so packed that reporters had to request tickets to gain entry.
But the story of the first major UK criminal trial to emerge from the global financial crisis has yet to make many headlines in Qatar — where much of the drama originates.
At the time, Barclays raised billions of pounds from Qatar in a move that allowed the bank to avoid taking a government bailout.
During the fraud trial — which began in January — the prosecution told the court that the then Qatari Prime Mister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim demanded a personal fee for investing in Barclays.
International coverage of the trial has been extensive.
On Jan. 25 under a story headlined:“Barclays executives discussed ‘dodgy’ fee for Qatari PM, jury told,” the Financial Times reported on a fee demanded by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani for investing in the then ailing bank
“You can’t have the prime minister of Qatar as an adviser to Barclays Bank  . . .  It’s like having the President of the United States (as) advisers to JPMorgan; you just can’t have it,” said Roger Jenkins, known as “big dog” by his colleagues, and the “gatekeeper” of Barclays’ relationship with Sheikh Hamad. I don’t know what to do with this  . . .  he wants his money.”
On Jan. 30, The Guardian reported that Barclays’ lawyers did not object to £322 million in fees paid to Qatar and that the bank’s legal team had “persuaded themselves” that the 2008 agreement was lawful.

But while the international media have devoured the sensational revelations around Qatar’s involvement in the 2008 Barclays bailout, the appetite of the Doha-based media for the story has been somewhat muted.
The only mention of Barclays in state-owned Al Jazeera Arabic was in November last year. Similarly, the only mention of the case in Al Sharq was published in May, titled: “Barclays cleared of obtaining a Qatari loan.” There was no other mention of the accusations against the executives .
The muted coverage has raised questions by some media analysts over whether Doha-based Al Jazeera and its Arabic-language service deliberately downplay stories that reflect negatively on Qatar. “There is no longer a need to make much effort to prove that Al Jazeera has become far from professional,” said Abdellatif El-Menawy, a writer and columnist.
“So it was normal to select from news and events what is consistent with the policy and interests of its owners.
And also, to ignore what it considers to be disclosure of abuses by Qatari officials, even if they are proven or circulating in the media.”


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).