Qatar Accused of Stealing Barcelona’s Street Lighting Design

design, Qatar, forgery, lighting, Barcelona, Doha

After six years of failing to negotiate with them, a Catalan designer is going public with a story that could cause Qatar tremendous embarrassment in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup. A member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bound by the Paris Convention and the TRIPS Agreement, Qatar is a sovereign nation. And yet, according to Beth Galí, the country’s public works authority Ashgal knowingly counterfeited 10 kilometers of street lighting that she designed for Barcelona.

The Stolen Latina Lights

In 2006, Ashgal forged nearly 1,000 “Latina” street lamps designed by Galí and manufactured by Santa & Cole. They were installed on Al Waab Street – the main thoroughfare in Doha – and are said to have been made poorly too.

The lamps were originally commissioned for completion in advance of the 14th Asian Games in Doha in 2006. Once Galí caught wind of what she calls one of the “largest acts of piracy in the history of design,” she attempted to negotiate with Ashgal through WIPO.

But since Qatar refused the arbitration, the designer has taken her case to the Courts of Barcelona instead.

After six years of battling against one of the wealthiest nations on earth, Galí has received an outpouring of support from the manufacturers Santa & Cole, from the Barcelona Design Center (BCD) and a host of local designers as well.

Qatar Fakes

“It is unbelievable that a country such as Qatar could commit such a serious case of forgery,” said Javier Nieto, Chairman of Santa & Cole.

“Protecting design as a factor of innovation is essential to create economic and social value in Europe,” Pau Herrera, Chairman of BCD concurred.

Meanwhile, Galí says that the forgeries aren’t even very well done. They are said to dazzle drivers and to be made with cheap, unstable steel. Images on Qatar Fakes website reveal the very strong possibility that Qatar stole this design, showing zero respect for copyright.

If true, they have a lot to answer for – especially as the spotlight will be on them in advance of the World Cup.

:: Dezeen

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6 thoughts on “Qatar Accused of Stealing Barcelona’s Street Lighting Design”

  1. Vitamin WOW says:


    I used that as it clearly illustrates what happens so frequently in The Gulf. A company uses its intellectual ability to put a proposal forward and wrapped up in the cost of the project is the ability of the team to think it all through and deliver. Then the project gets given to an organisation who couldn’t have thought about how to do the project and frankly cant deliver – but are cheap or have the right Vitamin W. It dosnt matter that the end result rusts away as long as something gets delivered.

    Babu is the generic term for all the people who scoop up such contracts – in Qatar they operate in the industrial estate.

    I used it as I dont have any idea of the Chinese equivalent who did exactly that in this case – perhaps Wáng as its the most common name in Mandarin.

  2. Thanks for weighing in folks. I’m VERY curious to see how this plays out. I’m guessing Qatar will have to suck it up and give the designer a big pile of money… I guess we’ll see what happens.

  3. Kyle Sager says:

    Hate the counterfeiting. Love the story! You always do such a great job of finding interesting but unique stories.

  4. xoussef says:

    “Babu and friends in Qatar’s Industrial Estate”… cheap shot.

  5. Vitamin WOW says:

    Oh – But in Fashion there is – fashion may be protected by copyright to the extent that its shape is non-utilitarian enough to qualify as a creative “sculpture,” or to the extent that a design, pattern, or image on the clothing qualifies as “pictorial” or “graphic – like a logo – or looking at other issues the design of an iPhone (not talking about whats inside) as Samsung is finding out

    an interesting claim of design counterfeiting in Qatar that a company feels VERY strongly about
    given that Qatar is increasingly buying major Brands (Valentino, Harrods etc etc) that rely on design and brand – I wonder (if this is true) whether they are trying to devalue the essence of all Bands and Designs
    imagine flying a Qatar Airways jet only to find – whoops it isn’t made by Airbus but by Babu and friends in Qatar’s Industrial Estate

  6. I know in fashion there can be no claim to copyright. As to how far this extends to the world of design, who knows?

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