Friday 27 Apr 2018 | 11:20 | SYDNEY
Friday 27 Apr 2018 | 11:20 | SYDNEY

Soft power and marketing savvy


Sam Roggeveen


31 July 2009 10:30

Rodger Shanahan's May 2008 post about tiny Qatar's attempts to achieve regional diplomatic stature prompted my short follow-up on the seemingly strange Qatari decision to order two, and possibly four, Boeing C-17 airlifters. These are very large aircraft, and Qatar is a small country with a tiny military — by comparison, both Australia and Canada have four C-17s each, and the UK is likely to end up with eight. But Qatar has only around 12,000 armed forces personnel, whereas Australia has around 54,000, Canada 65,000 and the UK 180,000.

Clearly this was a somwhat disproportionate military capability for Qatar to have, which prompted me to think at the time that Qatar might really be interested in buying a soft power capability that would allow the emirate to respond quickly to humanitarian disasters. This suspicion is stengthened by recent photos from the Boeing plant, showing a Qatari C-17 decked out not, as you would expect, in drab military camouflage, but in the colours of the national passenger carrier, Qatar Airways, with the word 'QATAR' emblazoned across the fuselage.

I imagine that will look quite spiffy on TVs across the Middle East when Al Jazeera beams back footage from a regional disaster. Score one for imaginative Qatari diplomacy.

Photo by Flickr user Thomas Lu, used under a Creative commons license.