Outrage as Mark Drakeford accepts five-star hotel stay from Qatar government for World Cup

5 January 2023, 09:15

Mark Drakeford stayed in Qatar for three nights alongside the Welsh economy minister
Mark Drakeford stayed in Qatar for three nights alongside the Welsh economy minister. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has been slammed for accepting a lavish five-star hotel stay from the Qatar government for the 2022 World Cup.

Mr Drakeford attended alongside the economy minister and four government officials. All six spent three nights in the Ritz-Carlon as guests of Qatar.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats says the stay potentially undermines the government's human rights commitment, though the Welsh government maintains the trip was to strengthen relations with the host nation.

It follows a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Lib Dems that revealed the Welsh government paid £13,000 for flights to Qatar.

The Welsh government does not know how much the hotel stay cost the Qatar government, according to the FOI request submitted by BBC Wales.

Mark Drakeford sent three nights in Qatar
Mark Drakeford sent three nights in Qatar. Picture: Getty

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A description of the Ritz-Carlton hotel website reads: "Set on a private island in West Bay Lagoon, this 5-star hotel in Doha creates a rich resort experience defined by elegance."

Qatar faced backlash for hosting the World Cup over its treatment of women, migrant workers and LGBT community.

Mr Drakeford said the decision to attend was "closely balanced" but said it was his "obligation" to watch Wales at its first World Cup in 64 years.

The Welsh government also said it had raised concerns with the Qatar government over its treatment of LGBT people.

LGBTQ+ campaigner Mark Drakeford 'accepting the hospitality of a dictatorship is not a good look'

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: "The first minister and the economy minister visited Qatar to support the Welsh men's football team as they took part in their first World Cup in 64 years.

"This was an opportunity to discuss trade and investment opportunities, meet with members of the Qatar government and the International Labour Organisation to discuss worker rights, and to take part in cultural meetings to strengthen the links between the Qatar and Wales.

"The visit also was a chance to share our values on human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers' rights and political and religious freedom."

Rishi Sunak did not attend the World Cup, though foreign minister James Cleverly did fly to Qatar for the occasion. At the time, he said: “I will be going...because I’m a foreign secretary and it is my job to ensure British visitors stay safe.

“I’ve visited Qatar in the lead-up to the World Cup and when I go to the World Cup I will be speaking to the security authorities to ensure that English and Welsh and whatever other British fans who are going to the World Cup remain safe.”

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