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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Israeli-funded Fenix scooters still on Qatar’s streets despite backlash

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The main investor of the company has previously accused Qatar of funding terrorism and called for an embargo on the country.

“Outrageous”, “disappointing” and “unbelievable”—these were the words used by Qatar’s residents and citizens who protested the presence of Fenix Scooters, a startup with questionable investors.

In December, Doha News published an investigative piece on one of the country’s latest electric scooter companies and identified its main investor as Maniv Mobility, an anti-Qatar and anti-Palestinian Israeli venture capital fund.

Maniv’s CEO Michael Granoff has engaged in fiery rhetoric on Twitter in the past few years, describing Palestinians as “knife wielding terrorists” to calling for an embargo on Qatar.

However, despite his harmful comments and public outrage, Fenix scooters can still be spotted across Doha, with no action being taken by the ministry of commerce to address public concerns.

Doha News has reached out to the Ministry of Commerce but has yet to receive a response.

Read also: Doha News Investigation: The Israeli company behind some of Qatar’s new scooters and its controversial CEO

In a statement to Doha News, independent local group Qatar Anti-Normalisation Youth [QAYON] said denounced the lack of action.

“We regret that the Ministry of Communications and Transportation ignored our demand and the popular demands [December 2020] to stop the operations of Fenix in Qatar, which is funded by the Israeli company Maniv Mobility, owned by Michael Granoff, the Zionist,” said QAYON said.

The group added it was not surprised that ministry of commerce have “neglected” the case by allowing Fenix to continue operating in Doha.

“We remind the Qatari people and residents of the continued boycott of Fenix and all its products,” the youth group said.

Online backlash

Since the release of the report, residents across Qatar have posed questions on why and how a company funded by a known Israeli investor was allowed to expand its operations into Qatar, especially considering Doha’s avid and unwavering support of the Palestinian people.

Social media users have urged on the Ministry of Transport and Communications [MOTC] to issue a public statement to provide more details on the investment and an update on Fenix’s status in the country.

“We are still waiting for clarifications…do officials know what it means to support companies based in Abu Dhabi and owns the data of the citizens and residents of the State of Qatar…with Zionist owners accusing Qatar of terrorism…have we reached this level of complacency?” one Twitter user said, responding to the revelations in the report.

Another twitter user said such companies are “typically not allowed” to operate in Qatar “directly or through agents”.

A look back at the racist remarks

Since 2014, Maniv’s CEO has made harmful comments targeting Qatar and on one incident even called for an embargo on the Gulf state.

Granoff has also accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and in one tweet claimed Doha “funds ISIS”. Both of the aforementioned tweets were shortly deleted after the DN investigation was published.

Beyond Qatar, Granoff has also described Palestinians as “knife-wielding terrorists” and in 2018 accused Ireland of “paying terrorists” by supporting the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee programme.

Granoff also described Sweden as “imbeciles” because of its intention to recognise the state of Palestine, while also denying the existence of Palestine on the world map, claiming Palestinians never had their own country to begin with.

Since the publishing of the DN report neither Granoff nor his company have issued a statement to respond but instead blocked the Doha News Twitter account.

‘Not political’

As part of the investigation, Doha News spoke to Fenix’s CEO Jaideep Dhanoa to learn more about his main investor.

When asked if Fenix had sought Israeli investment for political reasons following the signing of the ‘Abraham Accords’, Dhanao said his company never intentionally targeted Israeli investors.

“As entrepreneurs we are looking for value adding investors…we never went looking for money from Israel, we were looking for the best investors that can support us,” the UAE based entrepreneur said at the time.

“We are not very political, I think there is a lot of opportunity for collaboration and it is more about isolation versus integration. They’re very different approaches. When there is integration, it fosters a better understanding,” Dhanoa added.


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