Prominent Arab-American businessman Nasser Beydoun has finally left Qatar, after 685 days in Doha as what he calls an “economic hostage.”
Beydoun, a 47-year-old executive, husband and father, served as CEO of the Wataniya Restaurants group from 2007 until the end of 2009, resigning after the global downturn caused business to sour.
Beydoun had been trying to leave Qatar ever since, but Wataniya refused to grant him an exit permit. The country instituted a travel ban on him when the company’s Qatari owners sued Beydoun for $13 million, accusing him of mismanagement and overpaying himself.
Shortly after Eid, Qatar’s prosecutor’s office found that Beydoun was not guilty of any criminal activity. His travel ban was lifted on Sunday, and he quickly caught the first flight back to the United States.
When reached for comment, Beydoun, who had been separated from his family for a year, told Doha News “(The) only thing I can say is that it good to be back home.”
Beydoun is the most recent example of Qatar’s kafala system at work. In leaving the country, he joins the ranks of Philippe Bogaert and David Proctor, two men who also went public in their struggle to get out of Doha.
But unlike his predecessors, the businessman has vowed to make sure his compatriots know what they’re getting themselves into before committing to work in Qatar.
On his Friends to Free Nasser Facebook page, he writes:
Thank you for all your support, thou this battle is over the war has just started. The people who held me hostage have a profound immorality, cold egotism and an utter disregard of justice and humanity. The oppressed is always stronger in the end then the oppressor. For he has truth on his side.
Images courtesy of Friends to Free Nasser Facebook page.