Qatar Airways has brought claims in the English High Court against the Al Arabiya news channel relating to a video simulation published in August 2017 which purported to explain the effect of the illegal blockade on Qatar and Qatar Airways.
In a 130-page judgement of the English High Court published on Friday 6 November 2020, the court dismissed Al Arabiya’s application to contest the jurisdiction of the English court to hear the claims. The judgement followed the service of extensive evidence and a three-day court hearing.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is determined to protect its business from spurious and politically motivated attacks such as this, and we have confidence that the English High Court will deliver justice in this dispute. This judgement is welcomed and it is an important step forward for Qatar Airways in its quest for justice.
“The Al Arabiya video included an animation which depicted a Qatar Airways aircraft being intercepted and potentially being shot down by a fighter jet in the context of the illegal blockade. The video was widely viewed in the UK and worldwide, and caused a storm of media outrage at the time, with the UK’s Daily Mail commenting that it constituted “a chilling warning that [Saudi Arabia] could blast a Qatari passenger plane out of the sky” and which the UK’s Independent newspaper described as “beyond provocative”.
Qatar Airways claims that the video was false and misleading and that it was intended to deter customers from flying with Qatar Airways, being part of a series of politically motivated anti-Qatar publications by the news channel. Despite arguments by Al Arabiya, the judge found that Qatar Airways had demonstrated that it has real prospects of showing at trial that the video was false and/or conveyed a false impression and that it was published maliciously, with the motive of harming Qatar Airways.
Al Arabiya’s arguments that the Dubai courts would be a more appropriate forum for the claims were decisively rejected by the judge noting the impact of the illegal blockade and the “hostile environment for Qataris in the U.A.E”.