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Saturday, January 22, 2022

QMA threatens legal action over controversial newspaper column



The Qatar Museums Authority has threatened legal action against daily newspaper Al Arab over an article published this week by a controversial columnist, the editor-in-chief has said.

The piece, which has generated four days of heated discussion on Twitter, was written by Faisal Al Marzoqi and accused several top officials at QMA of abusing their power.

The charges include granting a marriage allowance to a gay executive; hiring a yoga instructor to manage the Cultural Relations Department; and frequent “drinking and shamelessness.”

In the article, the Qatari, who has long championed the rights of nationals and criticized the growth and influence of the expat community, said (as translated into English):

Many violations, administrative and financial corruption happened in several entities, the common thing between them is always the domination of the foreigner and the absence of the court of accounts!

I wish that the positions of the human resource manager, or the administrative or the financial managers, or services manager, or employment manager, to be all limited to Qatari nationals only; it is unreasonable to put foreigners in these positions and hand him more power than the owner. 

QMA is chaired by the Emir’s sister, Shaikha Mayassa, but is run by executive director and acting CEO Edward Dolman, formerly of Christie’s, the world’s largest arts auction house.

Al Marzoqi’s words appear to have struck a chord with many in the Qatari community. On Twitter, hundreds have weighed in under the hashtag #ماذا_يحدث_في_هيئة_المتاحف (What’s happening in the Museums Authority), demanding a full investigation into QMA’s operations.

Others questioned the validity of the claims and warned Al Marzoqi to tread carefully. QMA has not directly addressed the allegations, but sent Doha News this statement:

“The Qatar Museums Authority maintains a stringent employment and appointment policy where Qatari candidates are given first consideration for any open positions.

The QMA performs rigorous compliance due diligence for all suppliers and contracts including following the highest legal and ethical standards as well as industry-standard best practices with our staff and visitors. The QMA is proud of it’s work and the important contribution it makes to Qatari society and keeps the best interests of the Qatari people first and foremost at all times.”

A similar statement was apparently circulated internally, with a mention of looking into possible legal recourse.

On Twitter last night, Al Arab’s editor-in-chief Ahmed Al Romaihi confirmed that QMA had sent letters to him threatening legal action over Al Marzoqi’s column.

Speaking to the Peninsula, Al Morzoqi said he would “welcome” such action, claiming he has documentation to substantiate his allegations:

“I have enough evidence and there are witnesses as well… However, the QMA would do better to correct their situation before taking legal action,” he said…

“I met the director-general, his assistant, and the heads of human resource and of the tenders division and realized that the situation was beyond redemption.”

Meanwhile, employees inside the authority are holding their breath to see what changes the renewed attention might bring. 

According to QMA sources who spoke to Doha News, many employees there have long been unhappy with the status quo. Though not all of Al Marzoqi’s allegations were true, the general sentiment is that the column has jump-started much-needed conversations among the senior management.

“It’s a mess,” one employee told Doha News, asking to remain anonymous to protect his job. “(But) finally, something is happening.”


Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala

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