Court submits verdict in Qatar Airways ‘false’ video claim

The English High Court issued a Judgement in favor of Qatar Airways in a claim against Al Arabiya News Channel related to a scandalous video simulation released back in 2017. The animated video simulation showed one of Saudi Arabia air force fighter jets firing a missile at a passenger jet in Qatar Airways livery. 

Qatar Airways argued that the video discouraged many potential customers from taking flights with it and thereby caused “large-scale losses”, especially in the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and North Africa regions, showed the court’s decision, released on November 6, 2020.

In a statement released on November 8, 2020, Qatar Airways confirmed that it brought claims in the English High Court against the Al Arabiya News Channel in order to “protect its business from spurious and politically motivated attacks“. The airline claimed that the scandalous two-minute-long video was released to scare off passengers from flying with the air carrier.

“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“, said Akbar Al Baker, the Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways.

The simulation was released in August 2017, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar cut off both diplomatic and trade ties. Saudi Arabia was among the four countries, including UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, that imposed blockage against the state of Qatar, accusing the latter of support of Islamist extremists.

Upon its release, the video was widely viewed while being available internationally through Al Arabiya’s website, YouTube and social media channels. It caused a storm of media outrage worldwide describing Al Arabiya’s video release as being “beyond provocative”. 

While the video began with the figure of Qatar Airways plane motive, it could implicate that a Qatari aircraft was “an enemy and a target” and make a threatening impression of possible danger for passengers in the airline’s scheduled services, explained Pushpinder Singh Saini, the Justice of the England High Court. The court also found that the motives of the video were having “a false impression” and that it was published to cause harm to Qatar Airways.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya and other defendants of the case argued that the video was not only accurate in international law but that it also did not mean, that “if people chose to fly with Qatar Airways in and around the Middle East there was a serious risk”, neither that “their aircraft would be shot down and they would be killed”. 

The defendants also claimed that the video “made it clear that a commercial aircraft would only be intercepted if it violated the sovereign airspace of a blockading country in a non-emergency situation“. 

Al Arabiya argued that the video allegedly made it clear that “an aircraft which violated the sovereign airspace of a blockading country in a non-emergency situation could only be shot down if it was positively identified as an enemy or hostile target“. 

However, the Court rejected Al Arabiya’s arguments.


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