Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tiny, wealthy nation of Qatar goes its own way, and pays for it

By Declan Walsh
Friday prayers at the mosque of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies in Doha. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times
DOHA, Qatar — For the emir of Qatar, there has been little that money can’t buy. A lifelong sports fanatic, he later bought a French soccer team, Paris Saint-Germain, which last summer paid $263 million for a Brazilian striker — the highest transfer fee in the history of the game. Now at age 37, the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has run into a problem that money alone cannot solve. Since June, tiny Qatar has been the target of a punishing air and sea boycott led by its largest neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar’s foes accuse it of financing terrorism, cozying up to Iran and harboring fugitive dissidents. They detest Al Jazeera, Qatar’s rambunctious and highly influential satellite network.