Qatar Airways has welcomed a UK court’s judgement that it has the jurisdiction to decide on a lawsuit filed by the carrier in a case against Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya over its airing of footage deemed “misleading” by the airline.
Following a three-day court hearing, the English high court on Friday dismissed the United Arab Emirates-based outlet’s application to contest the court’s competence to hear the claims.
The video, which was aired in August 2017 and widely shared on social media, showed an aircraft belonging to Qatar Airways being intercepted and potentially shot down by a fighter jet in the context of the blockade against Qatar.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and trade ties with Doha and imposed a sea, land and air blockade against it. The quartet accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism”, an allegation Doha has vehemently and repeatedly denied.
“Qatar Airways is determined to protect its business from spurious and political motivated attacks such as this,” Akbar al-Baker, the airline’s chief executive, said after the court’s judgement.
“We have confidence that the English court will deliver justice in this dispute. This judgement is welcome and it is an important step forward for Qatar Airways in its quest for justice.”
Al Arabiya’s arguments that the Dubai courts would be a more appropriate forum for the claims were roundly rejected by the judge, noting the effects of the blockade and the “hostile environment for Qataris in the UAE”.
The Qatari national carrier claimed that the video was false and aimed at deterring customers from flying with the airline amid a wider politically-motivated campaign to smear Qatar.
Despite arguments by Al Arabiya, the airline said in a statement that the judge found that Qatar Airways had sufficient proof to demonstrate at trial that the video was false and that it was published with the intention of harming the company.