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BBC apology for Zaha Hadid over Qatar deaths claim

"You should check your information before you say anything," Hadid told the BBC Radio 4 presenter who suggested Zaha Hadid was involved with stadium construction work which led to 1,200 deaths in Qatar

Zaha Hadid said "there haven't been any problems" at the Al Wakrah Stadium's construction.
Zaha Hadid said "there haven't been any problems" at the Al Wakrah Stadium's construction.

English broadcaster BBC has apologised to London-based architect Dame Zaha Hadid (pictured) after a radio interviewer suggested she was linked to the deaths of 1,200 construction workers in Qatar who had worked on the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium projects she is involved in designing.

Hadid was being interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when she was asked about the Al Wakrah Stadium project, and the presenter Sarah Montague suggested there had been “considerable problems” with the construction of the stadium.

“There haven't been any problems actually," Hadid had replied.

"I have to put you right. There’s not a single problem in our stadium in Qatar." 

Montague asked further about the project and said there had been a number of deaths of migrant workers on the site.

“Absolutely not true,” Hadid said.

“We sued somebody for writing that and saying that and it had to be withdrawn from the press. It is absolutely inaccurate.

“There is no deaths on our site [the stadium] whatsoever. You should check your information before you say anything," Hadid continued. 

Hadid cut short the interview moments later when Montague asked about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium, suggesting that Hadid was to blame for the Japanese government’s decision to scrap her plans for the project because of high costs.

“I didn’t pull out of the Japanese project,” Hadid said.

“It’s a very serious story. It’s a scandal. We won this competition three years ago, it was an international competition entered by many Japanese architects and we won it.”

On its Twitter account, Zaha Hadid Architects said Hadid received a personal apology from BBC Today, and that the BBC published an “edited version” statement on its website, clarifying that the 1,200 figure was for the whole of Qatar over several years.

“The ITUC’s figure of 1,200 deaths which was quoted on Thursday morning’s programme refers to migrant workers in the whole of Qatar across several years, and not only to the construction sector nor specifically to the main World Cup stadium sites," the statement said.

"We are sorry we didn’t make this clear in the interview with Dame Zaha Hadid. The Qatari Government say there have been no deaths on World Cup construction sites,” it continued, according to Arabian Business

Zaha Hadid Architects issued a statement about the Al Wakrah stadium project following the interview.

“Since all works began at the Al Wakrah stadium site in 2013, the construction crews have now completed more than 1.2 million working hours on the site with no accidents causing lost time," Zaha Hadid Architects' statement said.

"The authorities in Qatar managing the Al Wakrah site operate the highest levels of workers’ health, safety and welfare,” it added. 

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Construction Week - Issue 754
Nov 23, 2019