I would like to respond to the issues raised in a report called “Trying to lift the veil on Qatar” which was done by Katya Adler , a BBC reporter; (in the link above) because I find it to be biased and does not reflect a true picture of the people of Qatar.
A journalist or a reporters duty is to represent both point of views to enable the readers to make their own judgment. An article about Qatar and Qatari culture and not a single Qatari was interviewed. Doesn’t that make the article a little biased? But what I am mostly surprised or disappointed with is not how the reporter represented the information received, but rather with the ones people that were interviewed; people who lived in Qatar for more than 16 years and felt resentment and carried grudge towards Qataris. As a Qatari citizen, I would like to respond to those by pointing the following:
First, the Qatari society is not a veiled society, everything is out there to see. It depends on people’s attitude if they really want to be part of it or not. Qatar is a window of democracy on the gulf and its international role in peace making is becoming more and more evident. The leaders are a reflection of the people; and our leaders are great, compassionate and generous.
Many foreigners who come to work in Qatar are only here for the money. They are not interested in embracing or understanding the Qatari culture which makes it difficult for them to blend in. Those people are in no position to judge us because we do not judge them. The government and the people of Qatar have taken many steps to make foreigners feel welcomed. To start with, we are trying to blend in with the foreigner instead of them trying to blend in with us. We make an effort to speak English in order to communicate with them; we do not force them to dress like us and we certainly to do not expect them to behave like us.
Second, according to Mr Mazan Barakat who said in the report that “They get us to do all their hard work for them” I would like to point out that Qataris couldn’t runt the country if they wanted to because of their small number. Take for example the fact that Qataris comprise 20% of the total population. Lets say for arguments sake, after excluding children, students and aged people from the Qatari percentage of the population, that 10% of the total Qataris are part of the workforce. How would 100,000 people be able to conduct all kinds of job required in a country that is in need for human capital to conduct all development objectives? Moreover, the very limited number of Qatari workforce are highly educated and qualified. Thus, their jobs should be suitable for their qualification. No one expects to see an engineer selling coffee or an accountant selling antiques in a local shop especially that there are plenty of available jobs that fit their criteria. Furthermore, the Qatari society is a conservative and traditional one. Thus, some jobs are considered inappropriate simply because they contradict with some of the conservative values that are part of the culture. And for all those reasons you would find more foreigners than Qataris.
Third, hospitality and generosity are essential parts of the Qatari culture. We welcome foreigners and enjoy introducing them to our culture. If Mr Mazan Barakat was not invited to a Qatari home, it is not because we are not welcoming but because he failed to establish communication and refused to accept our culture. Is it possible that after living here for 20 years he does not have a single Qatari friend? Is it possible that 200,000 people are wrong while he is right? By nature we are formal and conservative, we wont approach others because we are not sure if they want to or not. But once we are approached we would welcome you like family. I personally have more foreigner friends from different nationalities and have invited them several times to my home.
Fourth, in response to the couple Lamia and Jamil who lived here for 16 years; they should know better than to carry a grudge towards the people who welcomed them and given them opportunities that they wouldn’t have had in their own countries. It sounds very ungrateful when they said in the report “It’s wrong to say Qataris are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, It’s a gold spoon, encrusted with diamonds”. We are not born with an oil well in the backyard. Not all Qataris are rich and privileged. There are some Qataris without jobs. We Qataris have our share of difficulties. Not everything is easy and perfect as every one expects. But people only see what they want to see.
Finally, the 200 year old market was not knocked down. The old part still exist, but there were some new construction thatwas made as an extension to it; nothing was demolished. If there is one thing to learn about Qataris, is that we never forget our heritage and tradition.
I would like to conclude by saying that people like Mr Mazan Barakat and Lamia and Jamil, who have lived in Qatar for more than 15 years, should know better than to deprecate the country that have given them more than their own. They should know better not to disrespect the people that have welcomed them and accepted their difference without judgment.
I really do hope that Ms. Katya Adler comes to Qatar again, I would be more than happy to show her the other side of Qatar; the side that some do not want to see or be part of.