Qatar Airways’ New Ad Is Sort Of Brilliant But Totally Hypocritical

Nearly two weeks ago, several Gulf countries cut ties with Qatar, which has huge implications for Qatar Airways. Some of these countries have closed their airports and airspace to Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways’ CEO claims that other countries blocking their airspace in this way is illegal, but then again, he’s not exactly the most reliable narrator out there.

Well, Qatar Airways’ latest PR move in this situation is putting out a minute-long ad called “No Borders, Only Horizons.” In this video they’re clearly trying to get the public on their side, and they take an interesting approach in doing so:

I don’t think the issue here is really black and white, but the irony of this video is pretty rich. In many ways I support the Gulf carriers (at least as it relates to the accusations that the “big three” US carriers make against them), but that doesn’t mean I’m blind to their many weaknesses and injustices.

The premise of the commercial is that “as an airline, we don’t believe in boundaries,” which is a convenient message obviously related to the current situation. Here’s what the commercial says:

“The sky, there should be no borders up here. Only horizons. As an airline, we don’t believe in boundaries. We believe in bringing people together. The world is better that way. It is a right for all of us to go where need to go, to feel the things we want to feel. To see the people we want to see. That’s why we’ll continue to fly the skies, providing you with everything we can, and treating everyone the way they deserve to be treated. We do this because we know that travel goes beyond borders and prejudice, that travel teaches compassion, that travel is a necessity, that travel is a right for all. Remember that this world is all of ours to explore, and it’s a strange thing for us to be apart.”

Don’t get me wrong, the ad is extremely well done, and I imagine to the average person watching it’s quite compelling. But I just can’t get over the hypocrisy of this.

“Treating everyone the way they deserve to be treated.” I assume that excludes the workers who are imported to Qatar to build up their infrastructure and treated inhumanely.

“It is a right for all of us to go where we need to go.” Again, I assume this excludes all the imported labor, which have their passports held onto by the government, so that they’re not allowed to leave.”

“Treating everyone the way they deserve to be treated.” See above. 😉

“Travel goes beyond borders and prejudice.” Certain exclusions, like Israel, apply.

The ad reminds me a lot of the one that Aeromexico published during the US presidential election last year, clearly aimed at Donald Trump and him wanting to build a wall.

Bottom line

There are a lot of things I respect about Gulf countries. However, them claiming that everyone should be treated the way they deserve to be treated, claiming that travel goes beyond borders and prejudice, that it’s a right for everyone to go where they need to, etc., is a bit much for me.

If you can overlook that, it’s an effective ad, in my opinion.

Comments

  1. Errr… how is Qatar Airways responsible for all of those foreign workers whom you guys judged were mistreated? Simply because they are qataris? Or since they are government owned they can affect how other bussines entities deal in their own area?

    Is this involved in trips or accomodations? Or simply RANTS about something you think you know but you actually didn’t?

  2. The ad is from Qatar Airways, a Qatari company. None of their workers is unassisted or have their passport held by someone else. This is a business, and destinations must be profitable and strategicly chosen. There is a lot of misinformation in this article!

  3. During the bit with all the billboards I thought I saw a picture of the Emir (the same black and white photo almost every Qatari has on their car right now in support of their country and leader) when I paused it and looked closely I don’t think it was.

    Just one correction, the government does not hold onto any employees passports. It’s actually illegal. However, it’s the construction contract companies for example that themselves illegally hold passports after conning workers to pay huge somes of money just to start working.

  4. @Mark Actually, for a long time Qatar had almost normalized relations with Israel. Israelis were allowed to fly on Qatar Airways and even visit Qatar as tourists. At one point, Qatar even allowed Israel to have a trade office in Doha until 2000.
    Things only broke down between Qatar and Israel when Qatar tried to play both sides and back Hamas. And even Israel was willing to overlook that in an attempt restore earlier relations but Qatar wanted too much in concessions.
    I hear conflicting info on the state today; I met an Israeli who visited Qatar in 2011, he even showed me the Qatar stamp in his ISRAELI passport, was grilled on his return to Israel by Israeli customs of course. But I also been hearing lately that that has ended now.

  5. Well, I can’t argue if you think airline and government is the same entity. Each sovereign government has their own policies enacted by their own believes, including culture. I cannot impose a value which I deemed correct and right into you, since you also have your own values.

    But let me try to understand a bit. Some asian airlines also have policies whereby getting married or pregnant require permission or only able after few years in service. As for limiting contact of female employee to male non family, I think its derived from their religious and culture. The same may also applies to LGBT employee. Formally they don’t recognize it. But have you ever had problem or denied boarding/entry because of your preferences?

  6. @Ben W, you beat me to it.
    The funny thing about ‘boarders’ and Qatar Airways is that any time their Qatar based staff wants to leave the country, they have to get their company’s permission first. There are also night time ‘boarders’ for their staff. If they are late home in the evening, it means the possibility of them being fired. They have also helped keep ‘boarders’ in place in Qatar to make sure they are the only entity to legally bring alcohol and pork into the country.

  7. Agreed, it is hard to feel sorry for them. From my perspective this is just a simple case of karma being a b****. For commenters taking issue with Lucky’s characterization of how imported labor is treated, you are the ones who are misinformed. Lucky is absolutely right, it is very well documented and claiming passports aren’t being held as leverage demonstrates you haven’t kept up with widely available information. If anything, Lucky is being way easy on them. The terror funding is real, not just some accusation. True the saudis aren’t so upset about the terror part as they are about that funding being a risk to their totalitarian regime, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening and needs to stop.

  8. @Rob: if the country importing labor is to be blamed for any treatment thereto, then why those labors go from their origin country? The government in their origin country cannot provide employment for them. Thus, country in needs, imported them.

    Maybe its hard for you to understand, but not everybody born with silver spoon like you. Please, travel, learn, and broaden your knowledge.

  9. Agree with you Lucky- karma has hit Qatar in a way they never thought it would.

    Wanna support Hamas & other terrorist organizations?
    Wanna have prejudice against Israel and Israelis & their travels?
    Wanna treat your imported laborers poorly?

    Don’t be surprised when things like countries cutting ties with you happens.
    Such a hypocritical ad. They have lots to learn.

  10. While not denying you your opportunity to make your choices, I completely disagree with the title of the piece. One commenter says that those of us who disagree with your premise of mistreatment of employees are uninformed.

    So, call me uninformed, but I just got back from traveling with a Qatar airways employee who does not have her passport held by the company, is well treated by her employer, and travels as she wishes in her allotted vacation time. The part about having tight restrictions on alcohol, pork consumption, opposite gender visitors in her quarters are all true. But I would be extremely hesitant to call that ‘mistreatment’. Having high standards for the conduct of employees that does not intrude upon the values of the host country is logical, and as many here have stated, a known issue for anyone applying to work for QA. Even so, there were hundreds of applicants for every single open position.

  11. @ Andy — You’re right about all those things, and I wasn’t intending to refer to cabin crew. However, not all ground base employees are treated the same, and I was referring more to the overall construction workers in the country, who built the new Hamad International Airport, etc.

  12. A shame they couldn’t find a Qatari to narrate the clip. Sounds like they had to reach out to Australia.

  13. The hypocrite in this story is you, Lucky! You criticise Qatar, while at the same time you fly an airline, which is the national carrier of the worst human rights abuser on this planet and the main financier of wahhabist terrorism!!!! Now, yes, Qatar treats its foreign labour in a rather shameful way, this is an unfortunate fact. But then, do you think other Muslim countries do better? What is the understanding of human rights in Muslim countries….ZERO!!! I don’t want to know how foreign labourers live in all of the Gulf States, I am sure their treatment is not better in the UAE, KSA etc….!
    Then bear in mind: every wealthy society grew by taking advantage of slaves or oppressed people: The romans had slaves, the Americas built on slaves, the Egyptian pyramids were built by slaves, Singapore has loads of foreign labourers, which are not treated as royalty! And so do the Gulf States!!! So you are making it a bit easy for yourself to criticise Qatar Airways!! Also, Qatar is the country most scrutinised by the ILO and other organisations, given the FIFA 2022 world cup. Many NGO’s and other organisations have scrutinised and criticised Qatar and Qatar came up with a new labour law, a milestone compared to its neighbouring countries. Yes, abuse still takes place, but Qatar has made efforts to end the abuse and employers abusing their foreign labour face harsher punishments. Further, taking away passports, restricting employees, is not legally permitted in Qatar! Just have a look at the Qatari labour laws and the regulations…read for yourself!!
    Lastly, just for your and the readers knowledge, especially in relation to women’s rights: On a few of my QR flights, there were female cockpit crews: a young Arabic lady, being FO on the 380, a woman, caucasian, being PIC on a 787! Take this into consideration too….!!

  14. @Andy, of course cabin crew retain their passports, how else could they clear customs in foreign countries when overnighting?!
    @Mark, that is an English accent, not Australian.

  15. Wow! From bashing country, government, airline, now the commenters are bashing religion as well? Wooow…..

  16. Human rights is a alien concept in Muslim countries. The likes of Trump and May will arselick the rich arabs and trash the poor ones. India thankfully does not subscribe to this garbage. Racism, Oppression are all part of the European, Arab and Asian worlds.

    Jews control the world. The ILO has failed to rein in these Gulf countries.

  17. Dubai and Abu Dubai practice the same holding of passports for many of their imported “slave” labour!(which i have witnessed in the construction industry there first hand)

    Is “research” these days no more than reading a few third party media articles?

    Hypocrisy??

  18. I think the ad is brilliant and your analysis is totally stupid. Ad is about Qatar airways and you are writing about Qatar labor etc. No need to read between the lines. Read the write up and look beyond your prejudice..the whole civilization of Qatar suffers Coz you portray as per your little understanding

  19. @ P exactly correct. Totally agreeing with you. This article is is merely based on some Zionist politics which is especially against arab countries. I am also a QR employee who have got chance to work both inside Qatar and other Arab nation. I didn’t feel Qatar is treating badly against its labors.

  20. “It is a right for all of us to go where need to go, to feel the things we want to feel. To see the people we want to see”
    I will agree to that when someone will one day be able to fly from Qatar to Israel or maybe even just for ELAL Airlines to be able to fly over Qatar or for an Israeli or Jewish Person to enter Qatar.

  21. Having lived there I agree with you and I seldom do. This country is racist, the government and this airline (yes the disdain I get treated with as a non Arab or white personal by cabin crew of Qatar airways). Since my skin color only qualifies me for housework and not a job as an engineer which I am by university, grad school and decades of experience I’ll just sit by as a housewife who cannot get work and watch the hypocrisy play out. Really it’s all so comical, they keep bringing up USA having its problems but at least minorities can find work in America in line with their skills.

  22. Good day all,

    Many passionate comments here. Most of you make valid points and at the end it’s all a matter of perspective.

    However I used to work (several years) for Qatar Airways and I overall support Lucky’s point of view. In the company, like in the country, you are treated differently depending on your origin (citizenship) and position. And I mean VERY differently. Yes, the ad is hypocritical in that way.

    Of course, Qatar/Qatar Airways are not the only ones who deserve some criticism. But this is a post about Qatar Airways’ ad, so the point is valid.

  23. Israel and Saudi & Co. are the Hypocrites, When we are Zio Jew. We never be Happy.

  24. The true reason for the Gulf Crisis is Aljazeera. The Saudis et al made fictitious claims that Qatar was funding terrorism, but really they want to quell free and independent media. Qatar are actually very progressive in many of their policies and the fact that a government-owned media organisation is independent in its views scares the Saudis.

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