Qatar is reportedly reviewing its investments in London in retaliation for the capital’s transport authority banning the Gulf State’s advertising over its anti-homosexuality laws.
Transport for London (TfL) tightened its prohibition on buses, taxis and Tubes amid an outcry over LGBTQ rights and the treatment of migrant workers in the run-up to the World Cup.
This has triggered Doha to reconsider its “current and future investments” in London, according to the Financial Times.
London mayor Sadiq Khan told TfL to “review how it treats advertising and sponsorship from countries with anti-LGBT+ laws” in 2019.
The review led to advertising suspensions for 11 nations including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
“Some” Qatari adverts, however, slipped through the net and outrage ahead of the controversial World Cup prompted TfL to reiterate the rules.
But Doha was reportedly angered when TfL, which is chaired by Mr Khan, contacted the Q22 body overseeing the World Cup to discuss the ban.
The Financial Times quoted an individual involved in the review saying Qatar was “reviewing their current and future investments” in London and was “considering investment opportunities in other UK cities and home nations”.
The person said Doha considered the TfL ban “another blatant example of double standards and virtue signalling to score cheap political points around the Qatar World Cup”.
Qatar has not commented on the report and it is unclear what effect a review would have.
The 445 billion US-dollar Qatar Investment Authority owns luxury store Harrods, the Shard skyscraper and co-owns Canary Wharf.
A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “It is right that TfL considers each advertising campaign on their network on a case-by-case basis, against its advertising policy. TfL issued further guidance to advertising partners ahead of the World Cup.
“There are a number of instances where an advert may be deemed unacceptable and, as a vocal supporter of the rights of LGBTQ+ Londoners, in 2019 the mayor requested TfL to review its policy on all advertisements referencing countries that criminalise same-sex relationships.
“They now face stringent scrutiny by TfL before appearing on the network.”
A TfL spokeswoman said: “Ahead of the Fifa World Cup 2022 getting under way, we provided our advertising partners and brands with further guidance on the advertising which we are likely to consider acceptable to run during the tournament while also ensuring that football fans are not denied the opportunity to support their teams.
“Each advertising campaign continues to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”