Australian Qatar airport victim describes invasive search ‘nightmare’

Economy class cabin of Qatar Airways new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 November 2020

Australian Qatar airport victim describes invasive search ‘nightmare’

  • An Australian victim who went through an invasive examination at Qatar’s airport has spoken out on 60 Minutes Australia
  • "Qatar is a dangerous destination, especially for western women,” the show's presenter said

LONDON: An Australian victim who went through an invasive examination at Qatar’s airport has spoken out about her “nightmare” experience on 60 Minutes Australia this week. 

The show begins with 60 Minutes reporter Sarah Abo describing how “dangerous” Qatar is for foreign women following the airport examination revealed in October.   

Abo said that Qatar “promotes itself as a modern and progressive state that welcomes and respects foreign visitors.”

“But that’s far from the truth. In reality Qatar is a dangerous destination, especially for western women.”

The international scandal grabbed headlines after a large group of women, including 13 Australians, said that they were strip-searched by Qatar’s airport authorities without their consent. 

The Qatari officials at the time said they did that after finding a newborn child abandoned inside one the airport’s bathrooms.

The episode interviews an Australian woman who was transiting in Doha. They called her Jane to protect her real identity in the interview as she speaks of the humiliation of going through the physical check in Doha.

After boarding the Qatar Airway’s aircraft, bound for Sydney, Jane said: “There was an announcement by a male speaker, who did not specify if he was a pilot, officer or cabin crew, saying all females need to disembark the airplane and take their passports with them.”

Without any warning, Jane and other Australian female passengers were snatched off the plane by “heavily armed guards.”

“There was no chance we could step up for ourselves . . .” she said with a voice choked with tears.

“At that point, scenarios were going through my mind . . . are we getting kidnapped? Are we being taken somewhere? Am I gonna see my husband or my family? 

At the tarmac, there were ambulances awaiting the female passengers. They were then forced to enter the ambulances and told that they needed to be “tested” because a baby had been found inside a bathroom bin at the airport.

Jane said that they were asked to lie on the stretcher and take off their underwear for checking by another female.

“We felt like criminals, I just kept thinking, if they think that I’m guilty of something, what’s gonna happen to me in this country?”

The show’s presenter said that the incident should make passengers reconsider choosing Doha as a transit destination: “The story of how she was assaulted is so unbelievable that not only will it outrage all Australians, it’s sure to make people reassess future travel to or via Qatar.”


Sudan govt says ‘not aware’ of Israeli delegation visit

Updated 24 November 2020

Sudan govt says ‘not aware’ of Israeli delegation visit

  • A senior Israeli official said on Monday the Jewish state had sent a delegation to Sudan
  • The Israel-Sudan pact has yet to be formally signed

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s government on Tuesday denied having information about the visit of an Israeli delegation to Khartoum announced the day before by an official from Tel Aviv.
“The cabinet is not aware of an Israeli delegation and we have no confirmation that this visit took place,” government spokesman Faisal Mohammed Saleh told AFP.
“We also have no information on a Sudanese delegation visiting Israel.”
On Monday, a senior Israeli official said the state had sent a delegation to Sudan — the first such visit since last month’s announcement of an agreement to normalize relations between the two countries.
Israeli army radio also reported Monday that a trip was underway.
The Israel-Sudan pact has yet to be formally signed.
“We have a pre-existing deal that normalization with Israel should be approved by the transitional parliament,” said Saleh.
Prior to that, “there should not be any form of communication with Israel,” he added.
Sudan has yet to form a parliament since the April 2019 ouster of former president Omar Al-Bashir following mass protests against his rule.
The country has embarked on a rocky transitional period that saw the post-Bashir government seeking to turn the page on its status as an international pariah.
Sudan was the third Arab country this year to announce a normalization deal with Israel, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.