Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Qatar Airways 100 lucky winners

Anne, a friend of mine, sent me a link on Facebook to enter a competition.

"To celebrate the launch of our 100th destination," the blurb trumpeted, "Qatar Airways are offering 100 pairs of airline tickets to any destination across our network."

It only took a few easy questions to enter and as I did so, my mind began to drift - would I choose the Maldives in Asia or perhaps a safari in Kenya or maybe even a trip to Doha in Qatar to check out the state of the playing surfaces for Ireland's World Cup games in 2022.

Having settled on the safari, I clicked 'agree' to the terms and conditions - isn't it funny how often we do that without actually reading them? - and thought no more about it.

In the days that followed, thousands of people just like me from all round the globe entered and this morning Qatar Airways printed a list of winners.

Alas my dream safari will have to wait, because as I've been told many times before, my name was not on the list.

But as I flicked through the list of lucky winners below, (which has surname, first name initial and country) the journalist that lurks within me, began scratching his head in bewilderment.

Here's the list. See if you notice anything unusual about it.

Name Country

1 Mirsaeid S. France
2 Mohammed A. USA
3 Sogand S. Iran
4 Hamid T. UK
5 Juanita C. USA
6 Hasen A. Bahrain
7 Zahra G. Canada
8 Furqan B. Saudi Arabia
9 Fritz C. Philippines
10 Moudhi A. UK
11 Mehrshad M. Iran
12 Lauren L. Singapore
13 Basel K. Syria
14 Bhavanai V. India
15 Sajad M. Iran
16 Keyvan A. UK
17 Mohsen M. Iran
18 Claire G. Australia
19 Kurnia H. Indonesia
20 Shoaib R. Pakistan
21 Sharad K. India
22 Raymundo N. UAE
23 Batt T. Egypt
24 Yasser A. Saudi Arabia
25 Mohamed M. Libya
26 Antonysamy X. Libya
27 Saleh B. Malaysia
28 Rezkallah M. France
29 FookYoong W. Singapore
30 Abdulaziz A. USA
31 Adrien G. Switzerland
32 Azzam A. Italy
33 Steph W. Sudan
34 Julia F. Germany
35 Nikhil P. India
36 George M. USA
37 Mohammed A. Hungary
38 Oksana B. France
39 Noushad P. UAE
40 Norsaid R. Switzerland
41 Taleb A. Iran
42 Zohreh K. Iran
43 Vladimir T. Qatar
44 Steph O. Saudi Arabia
45 Luca B. Spain
46 Blessen J. India
47 Amir N. Russia
48 Kira A. Denmark
49 Ealbert M. Iran
50 Henty T. Indonesia
51 Fernand M. Iran
52 Shashika D. Malaysia
53 Md M. Saudi Arabia
54 Fonteyn L. Singapore
55 Mareline G. USA
56 Tereau B. France
57 Imran A. Qatar
58 Mark C. South Africa
59 Isa A. UK
60 Cristina M. Hong Kong
61 Nadine A. Bahrain
62 Mohammad E. Italy
63 Babak J. USA
64 Ahmed A. Sweden
65 Nakib A. Bangladesh
66 Atoosa N. Germany
67 Karim Y. Egypt
68 Umma S. Nepal
69 Sibi T. India
70 Kim L. Denmark
71 Abdullah A. USA
72 Yara A. Egypt
73 Norman T. Singapore
74 Ahmed J. Saudi Arabia
75 Deby C. France
76 Soheil R. UAE
77 Susanna C. Australia
78 Deborah C. Germany
79 Babak R. USA
80 Fahad A. USA
81 Rose M. Kenya
82 Beaum M. France
83 Afshin N. Iran
84 Lam L. Hong Kong
85 Tarig E. Singapore
86 Nasser A. Saudi Arabia
87 Ali G. Germany
88 Mohammad M. Italy
89 Baroon F. Iran
90 Hakim H. Iran
91 Aslamur R. Bangladesh
92 Joanne K. Qatar
93 Sempour A. Switzerland
94 Yolande A. Switzerland
95 Claire D. France
96 Lloyd Elirod R. UAE
97 Huma C. Germany
98 Vladimir T. Qatar
99 Randall W. Qatar
100 Bahaa J. Qatar

Did you Spot anything unusual?

Well poor old Ireland got null point unfortunately. And I think we would all approve of the two winners from Libya - if they can find a working airport they will probably take their flights first thing in the morning - but the thing that really struck me was the number of winners from Iran.

10 of the 100 winners are from Iran.

Discontent began to bubble to the surface on Qatar Airways website as more eagle-eyed competitors than I posted messages about some other interesting features of the winner's list:

Two winners, both with the surname Babak from the USA;
Two winners, both with the surname Mohammad from Italy;
Two winners, both called Vladimir T, from Qatar;
Two winners, both with the surname Claire, one from France, one from Australia.

The PR people from Qatar Airways sparked into action, blasting us with statistics:

"39% of our winners came from the Middle East, Levant, and the Indian sub-continent," they said, defending their selection. "Another 29% came from Europe. Asia & Southwest Pacific contributed 14%, the Americas, another 10%, and Africa 8%. Thanks to everyone who participated."

But honestly, 10 winners from Iran?

One poster Ali Gh explained what he saw as the reason:

"u can't just calculate the odds by comparing Iran's population to the world's ... ur assuming the whole world entered this competition! This sort of draw is very popular in Iran meaning many people sign up for such things," he said. "I did a search for this competition in Persian and saw it on many Persian forums and websites. Also keep in mind Qatar Airways is not well known in US and Canada but is popular in Iran where the national airline is very limited due to sanctions."

Qatar Airways endorsed this by adding: "Thank you, Ali Gh for your accurate assessment regarding distribution. Winners are in the process of being contacted, and only after a release is signed, will we release their whole name."

But here's the rub.

Out of sheer curiousity, (it's one of my more annoying traits) I went searching for the terms and conditions of the draw, the ones I had so casually ticked without reading, when entering the competition. Imagine my surprise when I read the last line of section 4:

4. ELIGIBILITY: Open to persons who are legally able to travel from a Qatar Airways destination without legal guardians and are above 18 years of age at the time of the drawing. Entrants must provide a valid email address and must be able to receive a notification from Sponsor. By entering the Competition, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Terms and Conditions and by all decisions of the judges and/or Sponsor, whose decisions are binding and final. Employees of Sponsor, its affiliates or agents are not eligible to enter or win. Entrants are not required to be a member of Facebook or other social media website in order to register for the Competition. The Competition shall not extend to countries or territories where the Competition is not permitted or where it is illegal or unenforceable which shall include, but not limited to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Iran, Quebec, Sudan, and Syria.

That's right Iran.

And alongside the 10 winners on the list from Iran, there's one lucky winner from Sudan and another from Syria, all twelve of them, according to Qatar Airways rules, ineligible.

As we speak, Qatar Airways are in the process of contacting the winners, eligible and ineligible. I did try to post a message on their forum twice, but for some reason when I posted it, it disappeared again. Technical difficulties perhaps?

So in the meantime, here's another statistic for Qatar Airways to mull over:

How did Qatar Airways who set the rules of eligibility for one of the most important competitions in their history manage to pick 12% of winners who, by their own rules, are ineligible to enter?

Answers on a postcard to....


  1. Like i said its a mere marketing ploy...but will definitely backfire! What an ill-conceived idea!

  2. Thanks for the post Cirrus. You may well be on the money.