On the surface, Qatar is a dazzling and colorful Arab country, home to sheikhs and big business. But migrant workers without Qatari citizenship make up nearly 90% of Qatar’s total population – the highest such rate in the world.
Anyone traveling to Qatar arrives with plenty of prejudices: that it is a corrupt, filthy-rich emirate full of forced laborers who have no rights; that it is home to businessmen whose practices are, at best, questionable. But for the Qataris themselves, and the millions of guest workers from all over the world who live there, the picture is more nuanced.
Yes, Qatar is a dictatorship with an emir who enjoys almost unlimited power. But at the same time, Qatar is remarkably open and progressive. The emirate is tiny, and yet tremendously fascinating – with its vast desert landscapes, its bizarrely-shaped mountains and its picturesque sandy beaches.
There is no way to offset the fact that a gigantic dose of hydrocarbon wealth is being used to stage an immensely carbon-intensive spectacle, in a place that is already getting hotter faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. In the narrowing window of opportunity that remains, can we justify burning this much of our carbon budget on international football?
Act of Oblivion, the title of Robert Harris’s novel, refers to the Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity and Oblivion, introduced to the Convention Parliament in May 1660 and given royal assent on 29 August.
Ordinarily a football World Cup would be a moment for celebration,a time to savour sport’s power to unite nations and a glorious distraction from the problems of the day. Not this time: the 2022 tournament has been mired in controversy since it was awarded to Qatar 12 years ago.
Another dubious global milestone was reached this weekas the world’s population passed 8 billion, according to UN estimates. In a the first of a series of dispatches from the frontline of population growth, Hannah Ellis-Petersen reports from India, which next year will overtake China as the planet’s most populous nation, on what the shift means for the world.
The US midterm elections saw the Democrats fare better than expected, retaining control of the Senate despite looking likely to lose control of the House by a small margin to the Republicans. The more consequential outcome may be for Donald Trump: Chris McGreal and David Smith ask if the former president’s grip on the GOP is weakening, and if his rival Ron DeSantis’s time may be coming.