Mark Drakeford’s luxury World Cup stay paid for by Qatari Government
First Minister Mark Drakeford accepted five-star accommodation from the Qatari Government during his World Cup trip in November, a freedom of Information request has revealed.
Wales First Minister and economy minister Vaughan Gething along with four officials were put up for three nights in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha.
The FOI, submitted by BBC Wales, showed the host nation provided the accommodation, board, and transport as part of a hospitality package offered to all delegates and their travelling parties attending the football tournament.
In response to the FOI, the Welsh Government said: “A total of eight officials and two ministers travelled to Qatar for the World Cup. Accommodation for the two ministers and accompanying four officials was provided by the Qatari government at no cost.
Cost of flights and hotels
“A hospitality package was offered by the Qatari government to the heads of state of each country that qualified for the World Cup but the Welsh Government does not hold any information about the value of this package. The remaining four officials travelled by economy class.
The four return flights amounted to £3,768 and the total cost of the four star accommodation in Doha for four officials travelling economy class was £20,320.
Ministers and officials also visited prior to the tournament once on a ministerial visit and another time on a scoping trip.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething travelled to Qatar for two days on May 9, “to develop economic links with Qatar and to discuss values with Qatari organisations”.
However, costs relating to ministerial engagements are exempt from FOI requests.
Three officials went on a scoping visit between October 23-27, the total cost of the visit was said to be £5,272.
The year before in 2021, nine officials travelled to Qatar seven separate times, the trips costing a combined £14,624.
During his visit to Qatar, Mr Gething said: “There is the reality of our relationship with Qatar, for example Qatar owns over two-thirds of South Hook, the natural gas importing entry way in South West Wales.
“Wales also has business interests here amounting to about three-quarters of a billion pounds worth of trade with this region – which means we have lots of direct interests,” he added.
Qatar’s questionable human rights record and position on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights created a number of concerns over its role as host for the World Cup.
Before Wales’ match against the USA, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, tweeted that female fans had their rainbow bucket hats confiscated.
A freedom of Information request by the Welsh Liberal Democrats also recently found £13,000 of Welsh Government money was spent on the flights.
The Lib Dems have accused Mark Drakeford of “potentially undermining the Welsh Government’s commitment towards human rights, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights” by accepting luxury accommodation from the Qatari Government.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “My party has been very clear from the start that Mark Drakeford should not have gone to Qatar, it sent the wrong message on human rights and put chasing tainted investment deals ahead of our values.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to call on Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour to donate the equivalent cost of the trip to human rights charities who address the problems faced in Qatar and for an ethical representation of the Welsh Government”
Research by Nation Cymru recently found Mark Drakeford was among a minority of European leaders who chose to attend the World Cup in Qatar. Read more here
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.