Since Germany has wanted to do without Russian gas as quickly as possible, Qatar has risen to become one of the most important partner countries. Now the Emir is visiting the Federal Chancellor. He has to answer uncomfortable questions about the upcoming World Cup.
Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is currently a sought-after man in Germany. With Qatar, the emir governs a country that has a resource that is important during the Russian war of aggression: liquefied natural gas (LNG). Qatar is one of the world's largest LNG exporters, but has so far mainly delivered to Asia. That is set to change: the federal government has now concluded an energy partnership with the Gulf state in order to reduce dependence on Russian gas. His visit to Germany was not only about energy, but also about football. The emirate is hosting the World Cup next winter - which is not only controversial among fans. It's about the rights of homosexuals and the workers who built the stadiums, for example.
According to Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, all guests are welcome - regardless of their sexual orientation. "We are not preventing anyone from coming to Doha," said the Emir after a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz when asked about it. "But we expect and want people to respect our culture." In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment. There are already appeals to refrain from showing rainbow flags at the World Cup.
The German team will participate, Scholz explained when asked whether that was opportune. Many people from Germany would also travel to Qatar. "Nevertheless, it is also the case that we have of course discussed and are still discussing issues relating to human and civil rights." This has now been done "very intensively" with regard to the question of employee rights. Qatar has been accused of exploiting foreign workers to build facilities for the World Cup, which the government denies.
Scholz said there have been changes such as the introduction of a minimum wage and new legal regulations that have improved conditions for workers. "As someone who is an employment lawyer by profession, I can say: There is always room for improvement," added Scholz. He will not forget that the real driving force behind his political and social commitment was his commitment to employees. "And that applies all the more to all other questions relating to civil and human rights."
The responsible ministers, Robert Habeck and Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, took care of the energy partnership. Both signed a letter of intent for deeper collaboration. The energy partnership will help Germany to diversify its gas supply by importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and at the same time give a boost to cooperation on "green hydrogen", the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced. Because of the war in Ukraine, Germany wants to become independent of Russian gas and is relying on deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Habeck had therefore already visited Qatar in March.
The German-Qatari energy partnership should promote "high-level exchange" between the two governments on energy-related issues, build bridges between the two countries and bring together actors from the public and private sectors, it said. Regular meetings between the Qatari Ministry of Energy and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection are planned. Two working groups should take care of the details.
Qatar is also an important mediator for the West in dealing with Afghanistan. When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan again last summer, the emirate also helped evacuate foreigners and local Afghan workers. At the time, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked Sheikh Tamim for his support. The Emir, despite his moderate demeanor, is a controversial figure. For example, he is said to have connections to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.