The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, a political foundation associated with Germany’s The Left party, has recently published a report examining the various objects of Qatar’s development policy, arguing that the emirate uses humanitarian engagement to “secure its power-political influence” and wage “nation branding.” According to the RLS report:
August 15, 2022 With its humanitarian engagement, Qatar not only wants to present itself as a reliable and responsible partner of the international community, but also to secure its power-political influence in countries of geostrategic interest. Particularly during the so-called “Arab Spring,” Qatar provided extensive financial aid to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) in Egypt and the Ennahda party in Tunisia. In this way, Qatar hoped to support the Islamist advance in North Africa in order to strengthen its own position of power. […] Development policy is no longer to be used exclusively as an instrument of power, but rather to strengthen international partnerships and serve “nation branding.” With international development cooperation, Qatar wants to present itself as a supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as a promoter of global education and development agendas. Development aid is thus part of Qatar’s measures to establish itself as a global brand. This also applies to sports: during the World Cup, several actions will be implemented by Qatari development organizations such as EAA to draw attention to the SDGs. In addition, well before the World Cup, Qatar has already established several initiatives and organizations such as the Aspire Academy to develop sports talent inside and outside Qatar. [Translated with DeepL]
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The report identifies the Qatar Foundation, Education Above All, the Qatar Fund for Development, and the Qatar Charity (QC) as the most important Qatar-linked organizations involved in development work. It says the QC is the world’s largest and most influential Islamic foundation, providing over $506 million in aid to more than 14 million people in need in 44 countries. The report also notes that QC seeks to counter accusations it only promotes Islamists but that it allegedly continues to fund initiatives close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood:
Qatar aims to counter accusations that Qatari development aid still promotes dubious Islamists with this approach and stricter control of Islamic foundations like QC. To this end, QC in particular cooperates in many projects with UN organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR or the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Nevertheless, the lack of transparency in Qatari development cooperation is still criticized, and organizations such as QC allegedly continue to fund initiatives that are close to the Muslim Brotherhood, including in Europe. [Translated with DeepL]