‘Dark days in Qatar’: Nepali workers face bitter legacy of World Cup debts

For thousands of low-paid workers, this year’s games brought back only memories of abuse and exploitation

On a huge billboard in front of Kathmandu’s international airport, is a picture of five migrant workers with the words: “Meet the hardest working team in Qatar. Wouldn’t it be great if they were compensated for it?”

Just metres away, hundreds of young men board flights to Qatar and other Gulf states every day, hoping to earn enough to look after the families they leave behind. About 400,000 Nepalis work in Qatar and many toiled for years on its preparations for the World Cup.

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Saudi Arabia readies full state pageantry for Xi Jinping visit

Chinese president’s three-day trip to Riyadh will lead to a ‘strategic agreement’ between the authoritarian powers

Xi Jinping will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday on a long awaited visit to a regional ally that has readied full state pageantry and a round of agreements likely to cement ties between China and Saudi Arabia – and deepen alarm in Washington.

China’s president will meet more than 30 heads of state and business leaders during his three-day visit to the Saudi capital, which is set to lead to a “strategic agreement” between the authoritarian powers. The trip is the culmination of decades of cooperation once based on oil sales, which has grown into bilateral trade of close to $90bn a year.

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Doha fashion Fridays: migrant workers show off their style – a photo essay

Blue boilersuits symbolise their low-wage jobs, but an Instagram account celebrates the culture and individuality of Qatar’s workers in their leisure time

Every day Bisho Sahani would start his work shift at 5am, constructing roads for hours in Qatar’s ferocious summer heat. And every night when he returned to his labour camp, he would get out his phone and make TikTok videos for his 60,000 followers.

Most of his videos are songs and poems about love, romance and the trials of life, but among them are stories of the hardships he faced in Qatar. “I wanted to show that foreign land is the land of trouble … Nepal is always better for us,” says Sahani, who is now back in his home country.

Images from Bisho Sahani’s TikTok account, where he posts videos about his life in Qatar. Photos: Bisho Sahani

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Is China doing enough to combat the climate crisis?

While it appears committed to renewable energy goals, China’s international commitments fall short of what experts say is needed

After decades of fossil fuel-driven economic growth and industrialisation, China is now the world’s biggest carbon emitter, contributing almost a third of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2020.

It is also the most exposed to the impact of the climate crisis, in terms of its population size and number of environmental disasters, according to UN figures. Average temperatures and sea levels have risen faster than global averages, and in just one year since Cop26, China has experienced record-breaking floods and heatwaves, bringing with them severe energy crises.

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‘Fight of our lives’: what happened on the first day of Cop27?

From a bombastic Boris Johnson speech to an impassioned plea from the Barbados PM, here’s how first full day played out

On a jam-packed first full day, we heard from António Guterres, the UN secretary general, who dramatically proclaimed that we are on the “highway to climate hell”. We also heard an enthusiastic and bombastic speech from the former prime minister Boris Johnson – and a rather tepid and uninspiring one from the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Climate justice and financing for loss and damage was a main theme of the day, and is likely to be so for the fortnight to come, as those from the countries most affected by climate breakdown ask for the help of carbon-spewing richer nations.

Johnson made a dramatic entrance, speaking to the New York Times and seeming to make political hay out of the fact Sunak did not originally plan on coming to Cop. He said we were failing on our commitments made at Glasgow, such as reversing deforestation, and that at the current rate we would not meet climate targets.

Damian Carrington reported on an interesting row over gas. In short, some African countries want to use fossil fuels to power development and bring electricity to the many people who lack it. But many countries oppose this, seeing the “gas bridge” as a false solution, at a time when the climate cannot afford new fossil fuel emissions.

Guterres made typically strong comments. He said: “We are in the fight of our lives. And we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Al Gore said we continue the “culture of death” by continuing to dig up fossil fuels, and cited vast floods in Pakistan, heatwaves and “rain bombs” in China, and a million displaced in Nigeria.

There was brief excitement that King Charles might make an appearance. While looking at the online agenda for the opening ceremony, we spotted that the king was listed as speaking. Could he be making a surprise video appearance, like that by the late queen at Cop26 last year? We asked the palace, and it said he was listed in error. A spokesperson said: “I’m afraid that information is incorrect, he will not be making an appearance or statement in any shape or form, virtual or otherwise.”

Barbados’s prime minister, Mia Mottley, said the global south needed more access to technology in order to tackle the climate crisis and have better growth. She said: “What is needed to make [green technology] is already located and extracted in the global south and sent to the north. And then we have to be at the mercy of those who want to export to us.”

The Pakistani envoy, Nabeel Munir, pushed for climate justice. “Loss and damage is not charity, it’s climate justice,” she said.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, agreed, saying that wealthier countries less affected by climate breakdown should pay up, and vowed that the Ukraine war would not stop French progress on climate targets.

Sunak chose to spend his bilateral discussions with Macron and the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, talking about boats in the Channel, and made an impassioned speech to broadcasters about tackling migration.

He then made a speech criticised as “tepid” about the climate emergency, saying acting was the “right thing to do”.

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New Zealand influencers detained in Iran ‘extremely relieved’ to be home

NZ government facing accusations that its response to Iran protests has been muted in order to secure release of pair

Two New Zealand influencers who were detained for nearly four months in Iran have said they are “extremely relieved” to be out of the country and back with family.

Christopher “Topher” Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray were on a trip they called Expedition Earth; driving a Jeep through 70 countries to “promote environmental issues” and documenting their travels on Instagram. They disappeared in early July, shortly after they were questioned by authorities upon entering Iran. The pair are understood to have been kept in the country by security forces.

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New Zealand couple detained in Iran for months leave the country

Influencers Christopher Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray had disappeared after entering Iran in July and had been prevented from leaving

Two New Zealand social media influencers who were detained in Iran for almost four months have been released and have now left the country.

Social media influencers Christopher “Topher” Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray were undertaking a trip called Expedition Earth in which they aimed to travel across 90 countries in a Jeep. The two recorded their travels with near-daily vlogs and Instagram posts, and documented their border crossing into Iran from Turkey in early July.

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Missing Iranian climber dropped headscarf by mistake, Instagram post claims

Friends of Elnaz Rekabi have been unable to contact athlete since Sunday, while embassy says she returned home with rest of team

A female Iranian climber who competed in an international tournament without a hijab did so because her headscarf had dropped by mistake, a post on her Instagram account has claimed.

Footage of Elnaz Rekabi, 33, scaling a wall without her head covered during an international tournament went viral, coming amid big female-led demonstrations against Iran’s clerical rulers sparked by strict Islamic rules on women’s clothing.

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Migrant workers in Qatar left in debt after being ordered home before World Cup starts

Early end to migrants’ contracts leaves many owing large sums to recruiters and unable to support their families

World Cup hotel shields England team from fans – and Qatar’s labour abuses

Thousands of poorly paid migrant workers in Qatar are being forced to return home before the World Cup, leaving many fearing they will be left jobless, unable to support their families and deep in debt.

In some cases, workers say they have been sent back before the end of their contracts or without receiving their full salary or allowances.

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‘I will reach Europe or die’: three stories of Afghan refugees in Turkey

Having paid smugglers to organise a dangerous escape, those fleeing the Taliban face persistent hostility

Shukriya and her husband huddled together at the bottom of a deep trench on the Turkish-Iranian border. It was summer and the days were hot. Around them were other Afghan families and their children, some of whom had improvised tents out of shawls and scarves to stave off the punishing glare of the sun.

Water was scarce and the stench of excrement and bodies packed close together had made Shukriya, three months pregnant, nauseous and sick. Everyone, infant babies included, crouched in silence as they waited for the smugglers to return. They had led the scared families to the trench four days earlier, promising to come back soon and take them across a heavily fortified border wall built to deter people like them from entering Turkey.

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Imran Khan supporters gather outside residence after terror charges brought against him – video

Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister surrounded his residence in Islamabad – to potentially stop police from reaching it – after he was charged under the country's anti-terror act over comments he made at a rally on Saturday. At the rally Khan vowed to sue police officers and a female judge and alleged a close aide had been tortured after his arrest

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Chinese president Xi Jinping to visit Saudi Arabia next week

The planned gala reception is in stark contrast to the low-key audience afforded Joe Biden in June, as ties between China and the kingdom grow closer

The Chinese president Xi Jinping will visit Saudi Arabia next week, where plans are under way for a gala reception to match that given to Donald Trump on his first trip abroad as president.

The welcome being prepared for the Chinese leader is in stark contrast with that afforded to Joe Biden in June, when the US president received a low-key reception, reflecting strained ties between the two countries and personal distaste between Biden and the de facto Saudi leader, Mohammed bin Salman.

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Iranian satellite launched by Russia could be used for Ukraine surveillance

Tehran denies Khayyam satellite will be under Russian control, despite reported admission by Moscow

Russia has launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan amid concerns it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has denied that the Khayyam satellite, which was delivered into orbit onboard a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur cosmodrome, would ever be under Russian control.

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Famine: what is it, where will it strike and how should the world respond?

A toxic combination of climate emergency, conflict and Covid is pushing some of the poorest countries into an acute hunger crisis

Global hunger toll soars by 150m as Covid and war make their mark

The world is in the grip of an unprecedented hunger crisis. A toxic combination of climate crisis, conflict and Covid had already placed some of the poorest countries under enormous strain, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent grain and fuel prices soaring.

“We thought it couldn’t get any worse,” said David Beasley, director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), in June. “But this war has been devastating.”

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South Africa seeking to extradite Gupta brothers after arrest in Dubai

Police begin process to transport Indian-born pair wanted on criminal and money-laundering charges

Police in Dubai are coordinating with their South African counterparts to secure the extradition of two wealthy Indian-born brothers wanted by South African authorities on criminal and money-laundering charges who were arrested in the emirate on Monday.

Atul and Rajesh Gupta are accused of paying bribes in exchange for lucrative state contracts and influence over ministerial appointments during the chaotic nine-year presidency of Jacob Zuma, which ended amid allegations of systematic corruption in 2018. The brothers fled to Dubai shortly after Zuma’s fall from power.

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