Doha News rounds up the 21st century’s “roaring twenties” with 2020’s good, bad and ugly.
Without a doubt, the year 2020 is not one that will be easily forgotten. Here are some of major events in Qatar making 2020 a memorable one for all:
Death of Sultan Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah
Leaders and residents around the world and region paid their respects to Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said in January and the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in September, both of whom died months apart this year.The Amir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, along with other Qatari leaders lauded both men as visionary leaders and thanked them for their commitment to keeping the GCC together. Notably, Amir Tamim was one of few leaders from around the world to attend the intimate funeral of Kuwait’s former leader.
First COVID-19 case in Qatar
As news of COVID-19 spread around the world, Qatar saw its first case in February when a citizen from Iran arrived back in Doha onboard an emergency repatriation flight.
Qatar’s COVID-19 lockdown
Qatar launched a lockdown in March 2020, with schools and universities being the first to take the hit. In May 2020, shops, restaurants, malls and other commercial establishments were shut as the virus spread across the country. Soon after, a nation-wide lockdown brought life to a halt.
In October, Qatar made global headlines when 13 Australian women were subjected to invasive searches in the aftermath of a baby being found in a toilet at Hamad International Airport. The Qatari government issued a swift apology, launched an investigation and vowed to prosecute those involved.
In May 2020, Qatar’s Nasser Al Khualifi, who is the owner of French football force Paris Saint Germain, was declared the most influential man in football. Al Khulaifi is also the chairman of Qatar-based sports broadcasting company, beIN Sports.
On July 14, the International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has jurisdiction to rule the air blockade by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, declaring the blockade illegal.
Qatar hosted the first round of the “historic” negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in September to end the decades-long war between the two factions. The talks began moving forward in December following Qatar’s mediating efforts. The two warring factions are set to meet again in Doha for the second round of negotiations.
In August 2020, Qatar announced that it will be ending the controversial Kafala system and introducing a minimum wage of QR 1000, along with food and living allowances for expatriate workers in Qatar. The first-of-its kind step in the Middle East region was celebrated by human rights groups across the world.
In his inauguration speech in November 2020 to the Shura Council, the Amir of Qatar announced the first-ever elections of the body. The announcement was received well and lauded by leaders from around the world, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterrez.
The Olympic Council of Asia announced Qatar will be hosting the 2030 Asian Games after a fierce bid battle between Doha and neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The council also announced that Riyadh, which came second in the vote, will be hosting the consecutive tournament in 2034.
Two new 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums inaugurated
Qatar opened two new 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums: the Education City stadium in August 2020 and the Ahmad bin Ali stadium in December 2020, as the two-year countdown to the major sporting event continues.
On the geopolitical side, Gulf countries began much-anticipated movements to find a breakthrough in the GCC crisis that would also essentially lift the three-year blockade on Qatar. According to a senior official, negotiations are ongoing with the aim of reaching a final settlement by the 41st GCC Summit, when all countries are expected to meet in Riyadh.
The first Pfizer vaccine in Doha was successfully given to 79-year-old Abdullah Al Kubaisi, a former Qatar University president who became the first in the country to receive the jab on Dec 23. Qatar signed several deals, including ones with other vaccine producers like Moderna and Oxford-Astrazeneca to provide enough shots for everyone living in the country.
For a more detailed look, check out our Qatar 2020 review video below: