The Qatar government paid for Wales’ First Minister to stay in a five-star hotel during his visit for the World Cup, it has been revealed.
Mark Drakeford, Wales’ economy minister Vaughan Gething and four officials were put up for three nights in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha, according to a response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by BBC Wales.
It revealed the host nation provided the accommodation, board, and transport to these individuals as part of a hospitality package offered to all delegates and their travelling parties attending the football tournament.
The first minister of Wales was highly critical of Qatar’s human rights record prior to and during the World Cup.
But he defended his decision to attend the competition by saying the trip would allow him to promote Wales and the country’s values on the world stage and further economic links with the Gulf state.
Qatar gained international condemnation over its treatment of women, LGBTQ+ people and migrants.
In the FOI response, the Welsh government said: “A total of eight officials and two ministers travelled to Qatar for the World Cup.
“Accommodation for the two ministers and accompanying four officials was provided by the Qatari government at no cost.
“A hospitality package was offered by the Qatari government to the heads of state of each country that qualified for the World Cup but the Welsh government does not hold any information about the value of this package.
“The remaining four officials travelled by economy class.
“The total cost of four return flights was £3,768. The total cost of accommodation in Doha for four officials travelling economy class was £20,320 and the rating of the hotel was four star.”
Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds has suggested the Welsh government should donate the equivalent cost of the trip to human rights charities.
Responding to the information revealed through the FOI, the Welsh government added: “This was an opportunity to discuss trade and investment opportunities, meet with members of the Qatar government and the International Labour Organisation to discuss worker rights, and to take part in cultural meetings to strengthen the links between Qatar and Wales.
“The visit also was a chance to share our values on human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers’ rights and political and religious freedom.”