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3/9/16

Qatar: Human rights group calls in US for boycott of Qatar Airways ahead of Logan debut - by Katheleen Conti

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Washington-based Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere, or AWARE, began running radio ads, including on WBZ news radio, Monday denouncing alleged human rights violations against workers by the airline and the State of Qatar, which owns it.

Qatar Airways is slated to debut nonstop flights between Logan International Airport and Doha, the capital of Qatar, on March 16. The rapidly expanding luxury airliner is running a promotional radio blitz of its own leading up to the service launch in Boston.

In the radio ad and an accompanying release, AWARE points to reported abuses in the country, including withholding wages from workers and preventing them from unionizing or organizing protests.

Most recently, the international spotlight has turned on Qatar over reports of poor working conditions for migrant workers building stadiums there as the Arab nation prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

Representatives from Qatar Airways did not respond to requests for comment.

“Qatar Airways is owned by the country. They’re very heavily subsidized by the country, and our feeling is that the United States should be much tougher on human rights violations as we’re starting to do a lot of business with these folks in Qatar,” said Mike Lux, advisory board chair of AWARE.

“Bostonians should boycott companies owned and operated by nations that commit serious human rights abuses,” Lux said.

Massport declined to comment on the group’s efforts.

Qatar Airways is the latest international airline to come to Logan, as the airport continues to expand service to the Middle East and beyond. Over the past decade, the airport has added 26 new international destinations for a total of 53, said Matthew Brelis, Massport’s director of media relations. Last year, Logan served 5.5 million international passengers, up from 4.9 million in 2014.

Qatar Airways, one of the fastest growing airlines, has expanded daily service to a number of cities in the United States, including Los Angeles in January and Atlanta starting June 1. The airline will fly its flagship A350 XWB plane between Logan and Doha, featuring 36 business class seats and 247 economy seats.

Note EU-Digest:  Politics of the United Arab Emirates takes place in a framework of a federal, presidential, absolute monarchy. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven constituent monarchies: the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. According to convention, the ruler of Abu Dhabi is President of the United Arab Emirates, the head of state, and the ruler of Dubai is the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, the head of government.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven individual emirates, slowly has widened the role of an elected Federal National Council. However, the council serves mainly an advisory role. The country's president is the ruler of oil-rich Abu Dhabi and there has been no widespread dissent in this nation following the 2011 Arab Spring.

The Emirates is one of the most important U.S. military and political allies in the Persian Gulf. Biden visited the country's Al-Dhafra Air Base  recently, which hosts U.S. and Emirati troops battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The Emirates also hosts regional offices for numerous American companies in industries including aerospace, energy, technology and hospitality. Dubai state-owned airline Emirates is the largest operator of Chicago-based Boeing Co.'s 777 wide-body jet.

Despite those close ties, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia remain concerned about Shiite power Iran's influence across the region following the deal it struck with world powers including the U.S. over its contested nuclear program. Saudi and Emirati troops are now fighting in Yemen against Shiite rebels there.

Read more: Human rights groupin US calls for boycott of Qatar Airways ahead of Logan debut - The Boston Globe

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