The Politics of Ahmed Al Baker

In two day’s time, a sneak-peak of “Medinah” is supposed to be screened at Comic Con 2017.

The former crew remains unpaid around $500,000 in wages. Designs in the show remain my property under international IP law so Medinah Company and anyone who shows material from the show will be opening themselves up to substantial lawsuits. And yet, the Comic Con screening is going ahead (they, of course, have no idea what is going on ‘behind the scenes’). In short, it’s business as usual for Ahmed Al Baker.

You have to wonder what kind of person he is that he can live with knowing former crew are owed so much money. This includes Filipinos and Bangladeshis who stood to lose their homes, their children who stood to lose their education. What kind of person are you, Ahmed?

Perhaps this story answers the question.

Shortly after arriving in Doha, and while sitting around the only office table the show’s producers had supplied in a hotel lobby, one of the international crew asked Ahmed a very pointed question, “How do you feel about all the workers here, who’s human rights are being abused?”

The room went silent. Our film stage was a ten-minute walk from the sports stadium where those people were working. We were seeing them every day. Ahmed was driving past them every day. Surely, he knew this was wrong.

But Ahmed replied, “It’s nothing to do with us (meaning the Qataris). It’s the contractors who treat them like that.”

The whole room sat in stunned silence. We had agreed to do the show because we’d been told Sheikh Jasim wanted to create a Qatari Hollywood and it should be free of the human rights violations his country was infamous for.

Perhaps, naively, we thought we could be a part of changing Qatar and helping the exploited labourers, but here was Ahmed blaming it on people his nation had hired!

Maybe he genuinely believed it, not that that is an excuse. But in fourteen words Ahmed had just told us he did not give a shit about the exploited labourers and it seemed obvious to me that we were – in his eyes – no better than the labourers. Since then, I think he has proved that to be true with his failure to look after the crew – especially the Filipinos and Bangladeshis – and get them paid.

Since then, I think he has proven this to be true with his total indifference and lies to the former crew – especially the Filipinos and Bangladeshis – whom he has yet to pay. He would say it’s not his problem: that it was Arab Telemedia’s. But those are not the words of Sheikh Jasim and his Middle Eastern Hollywood vision. Or is Ahmed telling us they are?

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