If You Are not Qatari, then you will be more appreciated – updated

April 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm (1, Opinion, Qatari culture, work)

– updated version please read again –

I am furious, mad, angry and feel so much hate. Things are seriously wrong and there is nothing I can do about it but to write this. What is going on in Qatar! A lot of injustice, a lot of theft. And no one is saying anything.

May is a fresh pharmacist, she worked for a year in Egypt and came back to Qatar, the land she was born and raised in to work because her whole family is here. She was shocked to know that all medical interns must work for 3 years as interns without being paid! She said this goes for all interns except those with blue eyes and blond hair. She works every day from 7 to 2, and then she goes to her other job to work as a sales woman in a pharmacy and only gets paid 1000 QR per month. The law says she is not allowed to work with a title and get paid as a pharmacist until she finishes those 3 years.

Sara is a Qatari doctor who is married to Saudi. She is a consultant now living in Qatar, however, because her daughter has a Saudi passport, she must pay for her daughter’s education in Qatar. On the other hand, her blue eyed blond colleague, who has less years of experience and is a specialist ( lower than consultant ), and is paid 25,000 QR more than her, and all her four children are paid for to study in Qatar Academy ( One of the most expensive schools in Doha ), since she carries an American passport.

Maha is of another Arab origin who was born and lives in Qatar. She was fired from her work at HSBC because of Qatarization, and it took her 8 months to find a job. By luck, she got employed as a trainee in one of the banks. She works two shifts, from 8 to 1 and from 5 to 8:30 and is only paid 1000 QR per month.

A Philipina Pharmacist who lives in Jordan because she is married to a Jordanian is paid 30,000 QR per month only to give a 2 hour lecture to Cornell medical students twice a month. All expenses of hotel, tickets …etc included. While my friend, a Qatari doctor is asked to give the same kind of talk for free.

My friend is a Qatari designer, she was considering a job at the new museum. They told her that they will only pay her 11,000 QR because she is Qatari and the law says this is what Qatari should be paid at this organization. While her blue eyed friend is of course being paid more than double, with the same qualifications and the same job.

Another friend is working in one of the financial organizations and her non Qatari manager refuses to send her to any training course while her blue eyed friends are being sent to training courses all over the world.

Do I have to have blue eyes and blond hair to be paid and appreciated here, or shall I work with a European or American passport to be treated equally. Why are Europeans being paid so much more than Qataris, not to mention all the benefits of having free houses, cares, phones, insurance, plane tickets …etc. No Qatari gets all of this when they start working, these benefits are only given to the highest of the highest officials and to a handful of Qataris. But for Anglo-Saxons it’s for granted. Don’t give me that silly argument that they are being paid so much more because we brought them from their home land and we must compensate them for this. Why don’t we compensate cheap labour then since they slave all day for nothing!

Is the law that Foreigners should not be paid more than Qataris is nothing but a load of crap!

I am so glad about what happened in QFC when the HR manager discovered that they were using the company’s money to pay for alcohol in parties and many deals with foreign companies that have not fulfilled their contracts and that all of this was being covered by their foreigner friends in Qatar, I am glad that all those thieves were fired.

I actually heard a CO of a foreign company that was brought to Qatar to do some development projects saying, right in front of me ‘We don’t care about the education or the quality of our work in Qatar. We are here for the money and we will try to get as much as we can before they discover that we are taking advantage of their laid back life style’.

I think it’s only a handful of foreigners who really care about this country and truly believe in developing it. I can write about this forever, and give you endless examples of injustice. But what is the point!

I feel like giving up. What is the point of trying to do anything since I will not be appreciated as much as Europeans or Americans. At work I am treated like a table, an object without a soul. They wont give me anything to do, and at the same time they wont let me go because of that stupid contract I have with them. All my potentials are being killed! It’s just such a frustrating situation. I can do so much and give so much but I am not given the opportunity. I have to fight so hard just to give back to my country! how silly is that! why wouldn’t you give me the same opportunity you give to foreigners?

You might think I am exaggerating or making all of this up. What I wrote is not my fiction, it has been proven by a study that has been made by Hay Group Consultancy and was published in the Economist Sep Issue 2008. ‘study compares managers’ disposable income in 51 countries, by calculating average salaries adjusted for taxes and living expenses. On that basis, managers in Qatar … have twice the spending power of their counterparts in America’. The claim is that there is a high shortage of talented Qataris and that’s why we pay very high for talented thieves!
Addition:

I want to point out that what I write about is not prejudice or racism, this is the normal right, and expected right of every national in this country. If I apply for a job in America or EU, the nationals have priority, then regionals, then any other expat. However, in Qatar, if you have Qatari with a high qualification, first they will choose a foreigner, then an Arab because he is paid less then a Qatari. They look for non skilled Qatari on purpose because they don’t want them to develop, they are just there to fulfill the quota of Qatarization. This is why it has been easier for high school graduates to find jobs than university graduates.

My friend Maha tells me about the Qatari girls who are employed at the Bank, none of them has a university degree. What does that tell you about Qatarization. While I have another friend who has MBA speaks 5 languages, and he was told ‘you are too qualified for our organization’ at the same time, his expat colleagues were given the post with less qualification and higher financial pay.

This does not only cover the working sector in Qatar. but even in the educational one, where we have spent gazillions of dollars in buildings and the making of education city, several universities from the US, Qataris are given second class treatment. Since the number of Qatari students and faculty and employees does not go beyond 12%. The funny thing is that some students were rejected after they have applied to QF institutions! Who are they to reject a Qatari who wants to study! Even the educational sector is biased towards expats because it is managed by expats. The only Qataris who are happy about their position in QF are the board members. While the young people of Qatar are being rejected, the door to study at their country is shut, as well as the door to study abroad with all the difficult new laws for scholarships.

There is so much more to write about this … I will keep updating this post

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Thesis on Qatari Women and Globalization … help please

March 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm (1, education, gender discrimination, Qatari culture, Society, women)

A friend of mine is currently writing a thesis about women in Qatar and how globalization/penetration of English into Qatari society has been a dominant force that’s changed their traditional roles and may even cause a total culture shift as they adopt this language wholly. She is  also interested how women are utilizing English to really bridge the gap between east and west. It’s so great hearing first accounts of women and how they defend their traditions and culture despite being told by Western missionaries that they need to “liberate” themselves from their “oppressive” lifestyles.

She is focusing on the women at the university level, as these are the women who have spent their elementary and high school years learning English and are now applying it to the real world. They’re the future mothers, so likely, their kids will speak English from the start.  There is a cultural shift,  not only are Qatari women highly educated and eloquent in English, but even their interests tend to be lenient towards western trends (Movies, shopping (brand names especially, western music, etc).

What she wants to know from you is the following:

Do you think Arabic is incompatible with Qatari women today? The language itself is sexist in nature (e.g. all words pertaining to women almost directly stem from her association with males, like bint refers to a young virgin, imra2a refers to a married woman, 3anis is a woman who is unmarried and passed the desirable age of marriage, even when a woman is married, her husband refers to her as the “2ahil” or “um al 3yall” when speaking to others about her, as though the most desirable/appropriate status for a woman is as a wife/mother.)

How does a woman break free of that when using Arabic? Is it even possible? Do you think this is one reason why young, professional, educated women are speaking English more?

* Please remember that this is an Academic topic and not an attack on Arabic culture or language or women. If you disagree with the thesis, please give a comprehensive explanation and evidence.

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Qatari Male Intern for Writing Project

March 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm (1, doha events, education, writing)


(BQFP) is considering working on a project that would give young Qatari boys the chance to develop their writing skills around the theme of ‘growing up’ or what we call coming of age stories; the ages of the boys we’d work with would be 16-17.

In conjunction with the professional writer who would conduct the workshops, we’d like to have a male Qatari intern, preferably college age or just out, who is interested in writing and would want to work on the project as a writing mentor to the boys (and provide some translation in workshops/reading material when needed). This would be for a month, likely in May, and paid.

We’re looking to collect autobiographical stories from senior Qatari high school students (approx 16-17yrs) that give a broad range of coming of age experience. The final production will depend on the range and quality of stories submitted, either a magazine, book or booklet in both English and Arabic. Stories could be submitted in Arabic or English, but we’re looking for personal point-in-time narratives rather than essays.

We would look to work with approximately five Qatari schools – two classes from each school to give ten classes in total.

Details on the Project

The programme would consist of:

* An introduction/orientation with the teachers to let them know what we’re looking for, and what we can offer the students

* An in-school workshop of an hour to an hour and a half duration where we outline what we’re looking for and I workshop writing principles with students

* An in-depth workshop for interested writers at the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Villa (approximately 4 hours) where we focus on the elements of writing –

plot, character, dialogue etc.

* The opportunity for participants attending the in-depth workshop to e-mail stories to me for feedback and development suggestions prior to final submission

please email: Mohana    mrajakumar@qf.org.qa

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Diary

March 10, 2010 at 12:56 am (1, Diary, Everyday life situations, Just a thought ...)

It’s late at night and I can’t fall asleep. I was very tired today and slept for 2 hours during the afternoon. I am frightened from this apartment I am living in; I keep having nightmares about people breaking in. I wake up not knowing if these dreams were true or not, it takes me few minutes to calm down and realize it was a dream. The mailman buzzed the other day and I didn’t answer. He buzzed again and I thought ‘Who would visit me now, it must be a mistake’. When he buzzed for the third time I answered ‘ who is it’. He said ‘mailman’. I buzzed him in, but how would I know he was the mailman, he could be someone pretending to be the mailman and once I open the door he will force himself in. So I go to the kitchen and look for that big Ikea knife, the sharpest I have. For some reason I clean it! I hold it in my left hand and hide it behind my back, I answer the door and the mailman delivers a parcel and leaves. My heart is still beating fast, and I do not comprehend that there is a parcel between my hands. I take few minutes to calm down, to realize that I am still alive and that the mailman didn’t kill me. ‘What is this?’ I wonder. I open it and it’s a gift!

The boiler is making noises and I jump every time I hear something. I stare at the kitchen window which is very big and think it would be very easy to break in through it. I check behind the sofas, under the bed before I sleep. There isn’t enough space for a killer to hide anyway! Double check that everything is safe, and fall again into my nightmares. I don’t know if these are dreams, I swear they are so real. I wake up feeling confused and continue dreaming but with my eyes open. I feel like I am floating, not really living, I do things without being aware that I am doing them. My mind is not with me, it’s like my soul is in another world and my body is functioning here by itself. And that music makes me float even more. And I like not being here. I like that I am somehow in my own world, no one knows where my soul really is. I only come to my senses when I eat, because I truly enjoy the taste of delicious food in my mouth. Only during these moments that my mind comes back to reality. The day ends and I continue dreaming with my eyes shut. The only constant thing between the dream, the food and the dream is the thought of you, and your perfume on the teddy bear.

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Dialogue Distress: The Gap Between Qataris and Foreigners

January 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm (1, Just a thought ..., Opinion, Qatari culture, Society, Women Today Magazine Articles)

First published in Women Today, January issue 2010



There seem to be a lot of misunderstanding and gaps in communication between Qataris and foreigners; many misconceptions and hasty judgment. I have wondered where these feelings and ideas stem from. I’ve been discussing this with people around town, and I am drawing some interesting conclusions. These are just opinions, it is not a study. Moreover, I am only talking about concerns and issues – there is brighter side that I will save for my future columns.

We hear many Qataris say “They don’t respect our traditions; They have more privileges than us; How come they have higher salaries than Qataris? Crime and disease spread because of the large number of foreigners! Qatar has become too crowded …” While foreigner say “Qataris are lazy they never work; They take everything for granted; Qataris are aggressive and not friendly at all; They are all spoilt, rich people; They are so closed minded and difficult to deal with”.

WE

Arabian gulf culture in general is very unique; yes people are Arabs and Muslims but the way they live is different from Arabs in Lebanon, Egypt or Morocco. The kind of society in Qatar is more akin to a tribal one, because of its small number and strongly shared values and traditions. People are raised to respect traditions and honour them. Qataris tend to be conservative; formal and shy even with each other. Hanging out in public places is very new to Qataris. Till a few years ago, going out only meant camping in the desert, going to the beach, visiting friends and relatives, or an evening at the Al Muntazah park. Girls would be with their families and boys would be in ‘almajlis’ or at the camp. It was not acceptable for groups of girls and boys to hang out in the malls; there weren’t many in any case. Imagine being a minority in your own country?

Not being able to speak your language freely; And on top of that, being judged by foreigners! Imagine being criticised by foreigners on your lifestyle, traditions or even clothes?

Work

Qataris believe that foreigners enjoy the privileges that really matter. For example; they get paid for accommodation, car, annual travel tickets, put their kids in the best and most expensive schools and earn double or triple of what Qataris get. An example is a friend of mine who applied to one of the largest employers in town; he was offered QR15,000 to start with and after one year training an increment of QR2,000. While a French friend of his, with the similar qualifications, with little Englishspeaking skills received this: QR35,000 per month + house + car + cell phone + travelling costs + health insurance for him and his family + education at schools of choice for his children + finding a job for his wife ASA P. There are examples dime a dozen, in this tone.

Why do foreigners with similar or lesser qualifications as us, get paid more?

The frustrations reach another level when the boss at work is a foreigner who refuses to guide or train them properly, because he/she knows that one day this Qatari person will take his place.

And Life

And, NO , not ALL Qataris are rich. There are some poor Qataris living in small old houses with no jobs. Sometimes, when I go to certain events where I am the only Qatari lady, I am stared at. I don’t know if they are curious or surprised. Once when I said it was too hot to walk in an Abaya during summer, an expat replied “Oh! I always wondered how you feel in that thing, now I know, not comfortable!” That was offensive.

I also get offended when I am asked: “Can you go out clubbing? Do you have a boyfriend?” And if I answer “NO ”, they give me a ‘sympathetic’ look and say “Oh! so you don’t have freedom.” How ignorant is that? Is freedom only about clubbing or having boyfriends? Is this what life is all about? Imagine if I were to ask an American, “Do you visit your grandmother’s every week”. I would probably receive a ‘No’ as an answer. Would it make sense to this person if I said “Oh! poor you, you don’t have strong family ties.” Another thing that bothers me is when some assume that we are lazy. I bet if they had servants and drivers, they wouldn’t bother with cleaning and driving, would they?

YOU

After speaking to several expats to fairly present their point of view; I honestly can say they cannot be blamed for these misconceptions. The first disappointment they face is the difficulty of meeting Qataris and socialising with them. “We’re accustomed to a different type of social structure and don’t take the Qatari structure into account. I’ve been here seven years and during these years, I’ve been invited to one Qatari farm (with the men, but not the women). Because those of us who are from the US and Canada are accustomed to interacting with people from many different ethnic backgrounds and different religions, we are highly disappointed to be in a place where we can’t interact with the people who live here. Most westerners really do want to know Qataris. After a while, we sort of give up and assume that Qataris would prefer not to know us at all”

However, the number one idea they have of Qataris is that they are lazy and that is because of several reasons. At work, a large number of Qataris are always late at work and do not show any regret or care about their tardiness. While people from other nationalities have more respect for time. On top of that, they see many Qataris spending more time on their mobiles than doing actual work.

At schools, expats see maids carrying children’s bags and in some cases feeding them. Children are used to throwing their garbage on the floor, expecting someone else to pick up after them. At public places they see women with their maids carrying their purses and shopping bags. And they know that the maids do all the cooking and cleaning

for most households. They also see children being taken care of by maids instead of their mothers in playgrounds or schools; and usually there is one maid for each child. Whenever they make eye contact with a Qatari, the Qatari either looks away or returns a suspicious look. Hardly anyone smiles which makes Qataris look a little intimidating. An expat explains, “In the west, I’ve become accustomed to receiving a ‘thank you’ when I hold a door open for someone or a ‘you’re welcome’ if I say ‘thank you’ for someone holding a door for me. This interaction rarely, if ever, happens here in Qatar and when it does, it’s usually with another expatriate. In fact, it’s more likely that if I hold a door open for someone, I’ll just be ignored, not even as much as a glance in my direction. Or, if I’m walking in behind someone else, they’ll just let the door slam in my face. Is absence of this interaction lazy, rude, or inconsiderate or is it just a difference in cultural behaviours?”.

US?

I believe that because of this reason; and the fact that it’s hard to meet Qataris, many might assume that we are not friendly. Then, they also get the overall impression that we can buy anything. If we think about it, it’s not their fault that they are getting paid more; these are decisions made by different organisations in the country. At the same time, it is not fair to say that a whole nation is lazy or rude because of a few individuals. I believe that people are the same where ever you go. We are all humans and share the same feelings, aspirations and needs. There are kind and rude people every wherein the world, and passing random judgment blinds us from the truth and the beautiful things we can learn from each other.

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Writing Club BQFP

November 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm (1)

bloomsburyqatar

Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation is sponsoring a Writing Club for all students across Qatar Foundation as well as at Qatar University as part of it’s Reading and Writing Development program. For the inaugural activity, BQFP will offer workshops on November 9th and 10th on memoir writing in conjunction with UK author Shelina Janmohamed’s visit to Qatar.  Registration is free and open to all students and alumni of the QF or QU communities.  Based on avaiablity there may also be a few spots reserved for interested faculty or staff.

 

Shelina, the workshop leader, is an award winning author, blogger, and speaker on Muslim identity in the UK. More information about her work is available at: http://www.loveinaheadscarf.com/.

Please RVSP by email for one or both of the sessions to bqfp.events@qf.org.qa.

Monday, November 9, 2009
Workshop One:Telling Your Story or Introduction to Memoir
3:30-5:00 p.m.
Open to all interested in learning about memoir, generating material for fiction, and the differences between various genre style writing

Tuesday, November 10th 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Workshop Two:Telling Your Story 2
Generating your own material in a workshop setting with the experience of the author.

**All workshop sessions will be held at the BQFP villa 3 at Qatar Foundation**

Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing
PO Box 5825
Villa 3
Qatar Foundation
Doha, Qatar
+974-454-2431
www.bqfp.com.qa
bqfpublishing@gmail.combloomsburyqatar

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