The online news outlet Doha News just published an e-book on the Villagio Mall fire in Doha, Qatar, that left 19 people dead including many small children one year ago. It’s an excellent resource that documents the events and reactions to the tragedy. Importantly, the 60-page book details the failure of the local media and how the void in coverage has led to a general lack in accountability for those involved. Here’s a section of the book:
Weeks later, on Sept. 6, the trial to determine criminal responsibility for the fire deaths commenced. However, the hearing was postponed after some of the defendants failed to turn upin court. Shortly thereafter, on Sept. 20, Villaggio mall did reopen tothe public, but offered no information about what changes were made to the facility to make it a safer place.
Qatar received the news with an ambivalence that continuesto this day.
As people began heading back to the mall, Jane Weekes expressed her pain to Doha News: “One of the hardest things about losing a child orchildren is how quickly the world seems to return tonormal whilst ours remains shattered. This will equally be the case for the families of the 4 teachers and 2 firefighters who perished, who are not only someone’schild but also leave behind children of their own.”
In the months to follow, the court proceedings would be post-poned three more times because of the absence of Gympanzeeco-owner Iman Al Kuwari, who had moved to Belgium withher family after the fire, as her husband Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Al Thani began his post as Qatar’s ambassador there.
Of course, Doha News was later banned from covering the trial because it wasn’t considered an “official” media outlet. The result is that the best news outlet in Qatar couldn’t cover the most important trail of the year. Here’s the full book: