Qatar 'conscripting civilians and summoning diplomats from abroad' to bolster World Cup security

Qatar’s World Cup security operation will be bolstered by civilians enrolled on mandatory military service and diplomats brought back from overseas.

Some people who previously completed national service are being recalled for further work around the FIFA showpiece event that starts on November 20, officials in Doha said.

The conscripts are training to manage stadium security queues, frisk fans and detect alcohol, drugs or weapons concealed in ponytails, jacket linings or even fake bellies, Reuters news agency cited training materials as saying.

The civilians were told it was their "patriotic duty" to help, a source said.

"Most people are there because they have to be - they don't want to get in trouble."

They are being taught to approach fans with "positive body language, focus and a smile," the source continued, and avoid discriminating against fans on any basis.

The current group of civilians are on four months paid leave from their jobs at key Qatari institutions like state-owned QatarEnergy and the foreign ministry, according to the source.

Qatar is following the strategy of using conscripts that has been deployed on previous major events, including the 2019 world athletics champions.

A Qatari government official told Sky News: "Qatar's national service program will continue as normal during the World Cup. Recruits completing their mandatory service will be supported by a small number of temporary recalls. This is standard practice, and happens every year during major public events such as the National Day celebrations."

The diplomats have been brought back from the US, China and Russia, and are expected to return to their posts after the World Cup, the source added.

With a population of fewer than three million - of which just 380,000 are Qatari nationals - Qatar faces a shortage of personnel as it gears up for the FIFA tournament from 20 November to 18 December.

Exploitation 'rampant'

Qatar, which is widely considered to be close to an absolute monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family, is accused of having an appalling human rights record in the run-up to the tournament.

Amnesty International says exploitation and abuse of migrant workers has been "rampant", with people exposed to forced labour, unpaid wages and excessive working hours.

Since 2014, Qatari men aged between 18 and 35 have trained with the military for at least four months as part of mandatory national service. Diplomats abroad have been able to defer their service.

Anyone who fails to sign up faces a year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Qatari riyals (£12,700).

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Last week, Turkey agreed to supply more than 3,000 riot police to help beef-up security at stadiums and hotels.

Under the agreement, Ankara will also deploy 100 special operations police to Qatar, along with 50 bomb specialists and 80 sniffer dogs and riot dogs.

Last month, Pakistan's cabinet approved a draft agreement allowing the government to offer troops for security at the tournament.

It did not say how many personnel would be sent, and there has been no confirmation from either country that a final agreement has been reached.