Syria revolt hits Qatari investments

May 24, 2011 - 2:08:26 am

DOHA: Qatari investments worth $6bn are at risk in Syria as Damascus, apparently furious over Al Jazeera’s coverage of the unrest there, has suspended key projects of mainly Qatari Diar and Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC).

Syrian social networking sites report that the decision has been taken by the Syrian regime as retaliation for Al Jazeera’s footages of the upheaval in the country.

Ironically though, many viewers are still not quite happy with Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Syrian events and describe it as half-hearted. However, a top QEWC official told a Doha-based Arabic daily that the power generation projects his company was planning to launch in Syria are in a limbo because the Syrian partner of the joint venture was not cooperating.

Fahad Hamad Al Mohannadi, general manager of QEWC, said the Syrian government had not yet provided licencing for the proposed projects. Some Syrian social networking sites nevertheless maintain that the Syrian regime has vowed ‘revenge’ against Qatar and would not let its projects continue. Sharply reacting to the reports, Qatar’s trade and industry circles say the move would seriously hurt Syria’s efforts to woo foreign investment. We will not invest in Syria any more,” a businessman said, requesting anonymity. Qatari projects in Syria are mainly aimed at doing social good and not only making money.

“Qatar can resort to international law and sue Syria for compensation,” he added.

A lot of Qatari citizens who own mainly residential properties in Syria where they spend long vacations with their families worry about the safety of their property. Most of these homes lie vacant for a good part of the year and are cleaned up only before an owner’s visit to Syria. Anti-Qatar sentiments in Syria and Libya are being fanned by pro-regime TV channels in these countries and pro-government forces are being swayed by them.

These TV stations are devoting almost two to three hours daily to airing programmes that portray Qatar in a bad light. An analyst said the coverage by these channels is a normal reaction by pro-regime forces. Al Jazeera’s coverage is reflecting the voce of Syrian, and Arab people in general.