The calculation of the sheikhs: Where the Emirate of Qatar is involved everywhere in Germany

There is a lot of criticism for the World Cup in Qatar.

The calculation of the sheikhs: Where the Emirate of Qatar is involved everywhere in Germany

There is a lot of criticism for the World Cup in Qatar. The tones become much quieter when it is not about sport but about economic power. The many holdings of the autocratic regime, especially in large DAX companies, raise questions.

The closer the World Cup approaches, the more the small but rich Gulf Emirate of Qatar is becoming the focus of the German public. There is hardly a country in the world - apart from Russia - that is currently being criticized more for human rights violations. At the same time, Qatar has had close ties to the German economy for many years.

Although the emirate on the Persian Gulf is one of the smallest Arab states, it is also one of the richest countries in the world. It possesses large amounts of natural gas and petroleum. That means the source of money on which the desert state is built will dry up once the resources are exhausted. In order to secure wealth and prosperity for the future, and to keep the subjects loyal and happy, Qatar and the members of the royal family have been on a global shopping spree for many years to open up new sources of money.

Strong brands and promising sectors such as transport, financial services and renewable energies are at the top of the shopping list. Above all, through the investment division of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, the Qataris have secured some large blocks of shares, including in Dax companies.

Qatar already has a hand in everything here:

Experts urge caution in the face of such extensive involvement by an autocratic regime. At least so far, shares in the critical infrastructure in Germany have not been the focus, Rolf Langhammer from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy told the editorial network Germany (RND). Political or geopolitical interests are not excluded either. Qatar could one day use its influence "for its own interests," the economist warns.

One thing is certain: Qatar is not just about returns. The ruling family is known as a strategic investor who invests for the long term. This is also supported by the performance of the sovereign wealth fund, which has lost 26 percent since the beginning of the year, while the world stock index MSCI World "only" lost a good 20 percent.

Observers fear that the World Cup could also be a means to an end and part of a longer-term strategy for the autocratically governed country. Qatar is trying to improve its battered image with sporting events such as the 2015 World Handball Championships, the 2019 World Athletics Championships - and now with the Soccer World Cup. Experts speak of "sports washing". However, "sports washing" is not the first goal, says political scientist and Gulf States expert Nicolas Fromm from the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg: "International sporting events are part of a much larger strategic project that Qatar has been working on for decades." It means economic power.

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