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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Controversial UAE-funded film ‘coming soon’ to Qatar despite backlash

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The Emirati-funded film has been described as yet another attempt by the United Arab Emirates to discredit Qatar.

A new controversial movie described by critics as an outright Emirati attack on Doha will soon be screened across cinemas in Qatar, Doha News has learned.

The Hollywood movie ‘The Misfits’ has come under scrutiny for appearing to frame Qatar as a terrorist state, taking aim at its leadership, people as well as one of the world’s most renowned and respected Muslim scholars who resides in the Gulf state.

In the movie, filmed and financed by Emirati owned film production company ‘FilmGate Production’, Qatar is referred to as “Jazeeristan,” a nation whose citizens support terrorist organisations and whose leadership finances global terrorism – an accusation used by the former blockading quartet in 2017 to impose sanctions on Doha.

Backlash as UAE-funded movie appears to portray Qatar as ‘terrorist state’

The film deliberately portrays Qatar-based Egyptian Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi as “the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the sponsor of global terrorism.” In one scene, a red Lekhwiya car is seen – in clear reference to Qatar’s Lekhwiya Internal Security Force.

However, despite widespread outrage by prominent figures and community members in Qatar, the movie has been listed to be screened at Vox cinemas from July 1st. Notably, Vox is owned by Majid Al Futtaim holdings, a UAE company based in Dubai.

On the other hand, Novo cinemas, owned by Elan Qatar W.L.L., does not list The Misfits under its Coming Soon section at cinemas in either the UAE or Qatar.

As per Qatari regulations, all movies screened in Qatar must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Culture. Doha News has reached out to authorities for a comment but has yet to receive a response.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with Doha and imposed an illegal, air, land and sea blockade. However, the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration on January 5th this year paved the way for the restoration of ties between the quartet and Qatar.

Shortly after the signing of the accord, the UAE reopened its airspace for Qatar’s airlines and reportedly resumed trade activities. Meetings between officials have also been reported with positive feedback.

However, the emergence of the film has added to a long list of media hostilities targeting Qatar, generating questions on the status of reconciliation between Abu Dhabi and Doha.

“I haven’t seen the Misfits yet but in any case it’s good to keep in mind that a movie usually takes 2 years to make, if not more. If you take that into account, it’s hard to draw any conclusion from this movie about where things are at between the UAE and Qatar,” tweeted media and culture expert Nadine Laubacher. 

“The next level of influence operations: UAE-funded movie “The Misfits” is another Emirati attempt to portray Qatar as a terrorist state and a global financier of terrorism – confirming the Gulf Crisis hasn’t been solved,” Dr Andries Krieg, political analyst and CEO of MENA analytica tweeted in response to the initial Doha News report on the film.

[Twitter]
“Unless this film had an astoundingly fast production timeline, it was presumably set in motion, filmed & most of the way through editing & post-production by the time the Gulf rapprochement got underway late 2020/early 2021. Still – not helpful for the papering over cracks,” one Twitter user said.

[Twitter]
Prominent Al Jazeera journalist Jamal Rayyan said the funding of the film is a response to the the UAE’s failure to accuse Qatar of terrorism without evidence.

“It’s fabricated fictional films will not cancel the reality of the UAE’s role in conspiring with Israel to destabilise the security and stability of the Gulf states and the countries of the region.”

[Twitter]


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