The Mail on Sunday - 2021-11-21


Qatar activist Noof now missing for over a month

China In The Dock

By Michael Powell

A WOMEN’S rights campaigner is still missing in Qatar more than a month after she vanished following her return to the country from exile in Britain. Noof al-Maadeed, 23, right, was lured back to the Gulf state by the authorities who promised that she would be safe from reprisals after she became an internet sensation with her videos criticising Qatar’s male guardianship system. Its strict rules mean women are dependent on men for permission to marry, travel abroad, pursue higher education and access reproductive healthcare. Noof vanished on October 13 after she spoke of being in danger and receiving death threats from abusive relatives. Campaigners believe she is being held by the Qatari government. She has not messaged any friends since she disappeared. Rothna Begum from Human Rights Watch said: ‘It’s a year until the World Cup and we have a woman in Qatar who has gone missing and there remain big questions about whether she’s safe. We believe she is under some form of detention.’ The Qatari authorities have not commented on the case. Sources have told concerned friends Noof is in hiding for her own safety, but they have not been able to speak to her directly. Ms Begum said: ‘She is not somebody who’d switch off and not tell a single person how she is doing.’ Noof lived in Cardiff but returned to Qatar last month after the authorities gave her assurances she would be safe.


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