A journalists' guide to Qatar: good money, bad rights

Plenty of UK journalists have ventured out to Qatar to make a fast buck in these tough economic times working for Al Jazeera and its burgeoning publishing industry. The tax-free money is great, the worker rights less so.

The latest to fall foul of the coun­try’s laissez-faire approach to employment law is former PA journalist Nick Carter, who until recently had a job working on an in-house university magazine.

He tells Axegrinder that on reflection he found Qatar “not a good place for journalists who actually want to be, er, journalists”.

Part of his job was to mentor one of the female trainees, who had close ties to the country’s royal family.

Unfortunately, the well-connected trainee turned out to be what Carter describes as “a royal pain in the ass”. He suggested to his boss that the arrangement wasn’t exactly working out. But when that same boss promptly emailed his colleagues, quoting Carter as referring to "that obnoxious pain in the arse Qatari princess", he accidently copied in the trainee herself.

“First I heard (as I believe they did in the furthest corners of the cam­pus) were howls of outrage from the publication’s manager, herself nick­named The Scream (after Munch),” Carter explains. Carter was then escorted off the premises in double-quick time.

“The only reason I wasn’t instantly arrested for ‘insulting and defaming’ a Qatari VIP’s daughter was a pledge to sack me on the spot and get me on the first plane out,” he tells Axegrinder.

But Carter, who is now freelancing in Sri Lanka, remains philosophical about his sojourn in Qatar: “It could have been worse. The contrast with the 50C dustbowl that is Doha during Ramadan couldn’t be greater, and the payoff was generous, as it damn well should have been.”

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