Capitol Report: D.C. turns to Qatar to pay for late-night subway operation after playoff hockey game

Qatar isn’t new to lobbying Washington — reportedly spending nearly $5 million on a public-relations blitz — but the emirate has found a new way to ingratiate itself in the nation’s capital.

Qatar is teaming with the DowntownDC Business Improvement District to keep D.C.’s subway system open so that fans can take public transportation after the Washington Capitals play the Tampa Bay Lightning in a National Hockey League playoff game Thursday night, which starts at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Washington’s Metrorail typically closes at 11:30 p.m. on a weeknight, a source of inconvenience when it comes to late-night sporting events.

It costs roughly $100,000 to keep the system open longer, and the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals have refused to pay. Last year, energy provider Exelon stepped in to foot the bill to keep the system running late after a Nationals baseball game, and did so again in conjunction with Pepco for Tuesday’s Capitals game.

Qatar faced a diplomatic crisis last year when a number of Middle Eastern countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cut off ties over the country’s connections with Iran and alleged support for terrorism.

Qatar is the richest country in the world, according to International Monetary Fund data, with per capita gross domestic product of $128,700, compared with $62,150 for the U.S., based on purchasing power parity.

The move was met with criticism on social media:

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