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Mark Drakeford’s luxury World Cup stay paid for by Qatari Government

04 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford in front of the giant bucket hat on the Corniche in Doha. Photo Bronwen Weatherby PA Images

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.

“Business interests”

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.

“Potentially undermining”

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 


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Llyn
Llyn
30 days ago

The media obsessession with Mark Drakeford’s Qatar visit knows no bounds! UK Ministers were in Qatar during the WC and countless Westminster MPs (including Welsh MPs) have visited Qatar in the last 12 months but how many stories have I read on this? Today’s latest update on Drakeford’s visit to Qatar is even in the Guardian.

hdavies15
hdavies15
30 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Just because other free loaders and schmoozers from UK rocked up at Qatar doesn’t justify Drakeford’s attendance. He’s a man with stacks of interchangeable principles. Fits in well with the current style of most Unionist politicians.

Llyn
Llyn
30 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

So in your rather populist outlook, Welsh politicians now and forever should not undertake any foreign visits and trade missions because that would indicate they’re on the make

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

If you rank that Qatar outing as a genuine “foreign visit and trade mission” then you have a rather perverse way of looking at things.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
30 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Where did James Cleverly stay, in a tent? I doubt it. The first Tory to wade in on this one MUST tell us where HE stayed.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
30 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

O lets ignore the issue re Mark Drakeford and turn the spotlight onto others who may have gone. Seems a familiar tactic by people on here who do not like any critisim of there favourites.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
30 days ago

In the the last 15 months, 36 Westminster MPs (Con/Lab/Lib & Ind), all of whom appear to have dodged criticism, made trips to Qatar and received collectively in gifts and hospitality a total of more than quarter of a million pounds but don’t bother looking at all that eh? Let’s just beat up Mark Drakeford and his delegation from little old Wales.

Llyn
Llyn
30 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Yep for me it’s not the reporting of Drakeford’s trip it’s the disproportionate focus on it as opposed to the almost absent reporting of the visits from those in the UK Parl and Gov. It’s either lazy or there’s an agenda?

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

We know that schmoozing and freeloading is a well embedded part of the Westminster way of doing things. Drakeford was supposed to be above that sort of nonsense. Evidently he isn’t.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

During a beat up Drakeford session on a radio station this morning (5/1/23) and despite my best texting efforts to get them to address the bus load of MPs who visited Qatar, the non debate stopped at beat up Drakeford. Agenda? Clearly.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
29 days ago

Your tax money subsidised £3.4Bn of arms trade with Qatar associated with the World Cup, Qatar own the 2012 Olympic village, the UK went to war with Libya in order to pave the way for Qatari special forces to support the IS takeover of half the country.
That’s just a sample, the links are uncountable and slagging off a Welsh Government mission on party political lines is about as childish as it gets.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
30 days ago

…and that was when I lost all respect for Mark Drakeford and realised that there is no Lafur Cymru, only Welsh Labour, which is just as corrupt, stupid and fundamentally untrustworthy as the Labour Party in England under Kier Starmer. Mark Drakeford the man who said he wanted to make Cymru a safe place for LGBTQ people eats the food of people who hate LGBTQ people, he stayed under a roof paid for by people who hate people like me and my son and my daughter and my cousin and my aunt, he took the hospitality of pure scumbags, therefore… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

You and me both Cathy, sold his soul for a couple of nights at the Ritz Carlton…self-respect has he none…

Harry Williamson
Harry Williamson
30 days ago

The Lib Dems have no concept of how the world works, or how international business, commerce, diplomacy and hospitality functions. This is a real non-story.

Owen williams
Owen williams
30 days ago

the plaid labour coalition should be focuss3d on nhs and education. Both have gone backwards under them

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
29 days ago
Reply to  Owen williams

Gone backwards in one year? Nothing to do with 13 years of Tory Westminster rule?

Pascal Lafargue
Pascal Lafargue
30 days ago

At least, nothing has been paid with the Welsh taxpayers’ money.

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago

Not until some Qatari backed inward investment proposal rocks up in the Bay and ends up trousering grants and handouts… from the public purse.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

We paid in moral coinage, we are less as a country in the eyes of those we seek to influence…

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