Qatar police seek help abroad for security training ahead of World Cup
As Qatar races to build new hotels, stadiums and rail lines ahead of the 2022 World Cup, the country’s security force has also been reaching out to foreign law enforcement agencies to help improve its ability to manage large crowds and maintain order.
Roughly a million foreign tourists are expected to visit Qatar during the football tournament, which is considered to be the world’s second largest sporting event after the Olympics.
In recent months, Qatar’s government has signed agreements and/or worked with various police forces in Canada, France and the UK.
According to the Qatar embassy in Ottawa, instructors with the Canadian Police College will provide specialized training to students enrolled in the Gulf country’s new police college, under a memorandum of understanding signed last month.
The local police college officially opened last August, with 130 students – mostly Qatari – enrolled in the four-year program.
While incidents of crime in Qatar have been increasing as the population grows, officials have stated that one of the primary goals of the college is to produce highly trained officers who can organize and maintain security for major events, such as the World Cup.
Football fans here would likely welcome a better-trained police force. In recent years, many have complained that the inability of security officials to competently manage large crowds puts a damper on large sporting events.
@dohanews terrible, messy queue, chaos outside the stadium and people jumping the fences! Stadium security were completely unprofessional.
— Salman Al-Mühannadi (@SalMuhanadi) January 3, 2014
In addition to Canada, Qatar has had plans in place as far back as 2013 to send students to the UK for part of their training.
However, the practice recently caused a stir in that country after the Telegraph reported that Qatar paid the Greater Manchester Police £400,000 (QR2.3 million) to train 300 of its officers in the English city.
“(The Qatar government) a reprehensible regime. (The Manchester police force) needs to look very carefully at who it is training,” British MP Graham Stringer was quoted as saying.
Qatar also gave their English hosts several gifts, at least one of which – a Hugo Boss watch – had to be auctioned off for charity to comply with the force’s ethics policies, a spokesperson told the Telegraph.
Defending the program, Manchester Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle said:
“This program spreads the message of what good policing is (and) shares good practice with others.”
Qatar also has a deep security relationship with France.
The country’s Gendarmerie Nationale – the public safety branch of France’s armed forces – honored Lekhwiya commander Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani with a medal in 2012 for his role in joint exercises between the two forces.
France said it signed an agreement a decade ago for a “substantial training programme” for Qatar’s Internal Security Force and supported the country’s protective efforts for the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar.
The Gulf state has also tapped the Gendarmerie for assistance as it prepares security plans for the Doha Metro and World Cup.