Glimpses from Qatar – The other side

August 30, 2010 at 12:39 am (Everyday life situations, Qatari culture)

Picture One:

Reem is a Qatari engineer with Bsc in computer science and network engineering. She has been working in one of the semi-government organizations for two years. She and her Qatari colleagues convinced her boss that she can establish a network department with minimum costs instead of hiring a foreign company to do it. The project was a great success. The funny thing is that they did not even receive a thank you letter for what they did. Two years have passed and she was not promoted. When she asked for the promotion she was promised the management asked her to write a justification letter. The funny thing is that her expat colleague who happens to have only a diploma was promoted twice! Another funny thing is that there is no personal career plan as was claimed but the Qatarization department. So she ends up going to courses on her own expense in a lost attempt to develop herself.

Picture Two:

Hiba is a Lebanese but was born and raised in Doha. She was working in one of the banks in Qatar till 2007 when she was made redundant because of Qatarization. The funny thing is that the people who took her place were high school graduates while she not only a university graduate but also has several years of experience. After waiting for 2 years, she found another job in a Bank. But because she is an Arab expat she is being paid less than half of what others are getting in her rank.

Picture Three:

Jassim has studied and worked abroad for several years, he has a Bsc form the US, MBA from France and may other diplomas form different parts of the world. One might assume that it would be very easy for him to find a job especially that he is a Qatari who speaks 5 languages. The funny thing is that wherever he applies he gets rejected because there are no job vacancies. When he argues and says ‘But I can see on your website that you have 140 vacancies and 40% of them is in my field of work’, they reply ‘You are too qualified for us’.

Picture Four:

Khaled is a branch manager for one of the banks. The only thing he does is sip tea and watch movies on his ipad. He stays in the branch for few hours and then leaves to meet up with his friends and manage his private business. The funny thing is that he is a high school graduate and does not even speak English.  Another funny thing is that Abdulaziz who is a Qatari working in the same branch and who happens to have MA and speaks three languages was not promoted and does not enjoy the big salary khaled does because he does not have WASTA! What is even funnier is that Khaled and Abdulaziz started working at the same time. If you want to laugh even more maybe you should know that Abdulaziz writes for Khaled his emails and communicate with the management on his behalf because Khaled is simply never working + he doesn’t even know how to type on the computer.

Picture Five:

When a young Qatari footballer asked for more money he was accused of disloyalty for his country. The funny thing is that the loyalty of the old and expired African and Brazilian players with a fake Qatari nationality who are being paid millions is not in question. What is even funnier is that a Belgium orthopaedics who is being paid not less than 30,000 QR per day was brought especially for the wellbeing of those expired footballers while most Qataris working in public sector do not even have health insurance.

Picture Six:

May is an Egyptian pharmacist who was born and raised in Doha. To be given a license to work she has to finish three years of training. Because she is not Qatari she is not being paid for her work for three years. So after finishing her training in the morning she works as an assistant in a private pharmacy where she is paid 1000 QR per month! I wonder how she manages especially that she has to pay for rent and food.

Picture Seven:

Jonathan is a researcher who offered a petroleum company in Qatar to do a feasibility research about new machinery for 1 million QR. After he submitted the research the company discovered that they already had the research and it was stolen from their archive. The funny thing is that the study was made by a Qatari who did not receive any amount of money for the study!

Picture Eight:

Arjon has been working as a builder for more than 15 years. He was not compensated for the several on-the-job injuries he suffered, yet he remained slaving all day under the burning sun for 600 QR per month. He couldn’t take being shoved like a sardine in the accommodation and buses any longer. He decided to run away from his sponsor to find better opportunities. He ended up free lancing illegally until he got a serious injury and had to go to the hospital. He ended up being deported to his home land with nothing after spending 15 years under the sun.

Picture Nine:

Hamad is a Qatari business man. His brother holds a big position in the government. Because he has WASTA he was able to rent a tower he built for millions before it was even finished for the ministry where his influential brother works. In other parts of the world this is considered a crime and Hamad would be thrown in jail along with his brother. But here they are considered ‘Smart’!

Picture Ten:

The government spent millions if not billions on sports. Some new stadiums are being built up north on artificial islands and some on land. These stadiums could hold up to 45,000 people, the funny thing is that the population of the north is not more than 20,000. Actually, if you distribute the whole population of Qatar in all new stadiums there would still be some space. I wonder who is this space for?

Picture Eleven:

On the front page of all Qatari newspapers you see headlines of Qatar holdings buying Harrods, Barclays, Sainsbury and all other sorts of big business that cost again millions in the most expensive currencies there is. Then you turn the page and see the story of Sabika, a mother of five who’s husband conned her and made her sign checks. She ended up with a debt of 600,000 QR and was sent to jail for 10 years because she didn’t pay her debts. The funny thing is that the government is asking people to give charity for those jailed because of debt! Then you turn the page and read the story of Rashid who went to Family Consulting Centre asking for an air conditioner because he is so poor and cannot afford one for his family.

Picture Twelve:

A new project for old homeless people was being built. People were asked to give donations to create this new home. The people gave half of the money needed. But because the company was 5 million short it was sold to another company that turned it into a hotel! The old people then were compensated by giving them a raise in their welfare income from 400 QR per month to 600 QR per month! Wow!

And then, I walk down Cornich and see these tall electronic clocks saying ‘Enjoy Qatar’.

P.S: I know its not all that gloomy .. so spare me!


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Yes I am tough

July 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm (Diary, Everyday life situations, gender discrimination, Just a thought ..., women, work)

You should be more like a lady he said. You became a little .. how should I say this .. a little rough and too bold for a woman.

Am I less feminine really? Maybe it is true. I see it too. I started putting less makeup and only buying comfortable cloths.  I didn’t do my hair for ages. I can see some violence in my speech and behaviour. It is like I am fighting with the whole world all the time. I shout at anyone who flirts or harasses me. I am ready to hit anyone who approaches me. I almost hit my friend once thinking she was a stranger who wanted to grab my bag.  I am always on alert for any danger; physical or emotional. I am always ready to defend myself from any kind of attack; physical or verbal. I became too honest in what I say that it might hurt others some time.  But why would you blame me because I am only the modern woman of today.

How do you expect me to wear nice dresses and high heels with hair and makeup done when I don’t have time to cook a proper meal for myself? How do you expect me to be gentle and kind when I have to work from morning till night everyday and squeeze myself  between people in buses and trains like a sardine, someone pushing me here and another shoving me there? How do you expect me to be a lady like when I have to deal with nasty people all the time? It is a fight everyday and I am fighting every day. I am tired and I feel a part of me has gone. People around me are taking a bite of me every day and I have to keep on going with whatever I have left. How do you expect me to be lady like when I cannot afford the luxury of staying at home and doing nothing but pampering myself? I am sorry baby but I don’t even have the option of waiting for you at home and welcoming you back with a passionate kiss.

I don’t want to hustle like this every day, but I can’t afford not to. Because men are not men these days. I have to do it all myself and I know I can never depend on a father, a brother or a husband. Maybe men were ‘gawamoon’ but not today baby, not today. Maybe it made sense that men inherit more than women but it doesn’t make sense today baby it doesn’t.

I have to do it all by myself and even better than you so that you don’t point the finger and tell me ‘emotional’. I pay for my rent, my food, my cloths, my tickets, my makeup, my shampoo, my lattes and even the water I drink. After all of this, how would you expect that I won’t become a little bit masculine? How do you expect me to give you all the care and attention you need when I am lacking so much? There isn’t any tenderness left in me. You drained it all out, the world has drained it all out.

I am stronger than you and a hundred man like you. I work twice as hard as you, and then I come back home to take care of the kids, I cook and clean and even wash your cloths. And you really expect me to put on something nice at the end of the day and squeeze the last bit of energy and emotions I have left to give you few seconds of pleasure? oh and not only you ask me to put something nice on, but you actually ask me to buy it. You actually want me to spend the little money I have left to buy something for you to enjoy!

And what do I get back from all of this? All I hear is you comparing me with other more feminine women, how I should take more care of you and give you more time and attention, how I have my priorities wrong, how I became cold. Who is the selfish one here? Who is the cold one here? who is the man here? who is loosing the respect here? I am a human, but I am a super human.

So yes I am tough, I am strong and I will keep fighting. For my education, for my freedom for respect. so just be quiet!

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June 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm (education, Opinion, Qatari culture, Society) ()

Qatarization seems to be the hottest topic these days and it also seems to be deeply related to the tension between foreigners and Qataris. So I would like to dedicate this post to discuss ‘Qatarization’

Qatarization is part of the newest trend in the gulf, Gulfization. All six countries of the GCC has started similar labour market strategies and Qatar is no exception. The need to initiate such strategy was due to recognition of threats of increase dependence on foreign labour and lack of developed national workforce. But the huge influx of labour was inevitable since the oil boom, as rapid growth required foreign professional labour to fill the gap of insufficient national labour. Moreover, there has been, and still many challenges to the development of Qatari human capital, and until these challenges were addressed and solved, a professional foreign labour was heavily imported.

Since the oil boom and until today, most nationals are employed within the public sector for several reasons. First, many of them do not have the necessary skills to work in private sector; second, even if they acquired the necessary skills needed the private sector lacked incentives compared with public sector and finally, some Qataris might feel overwhelmed by foreigners who dominate private sector and so do not feel comfortable in such environment.

However, one must point out that Qatari government employs more than what it actually needs as a measure for income distribution and creating jobs to ensure its legitimacy. What matters is not the number of the people employed, what matters is their productivity and it is something hard to measure. As for employment, the greater part of the national population were assured governmental functions or employment provided by the State. One must indicate, during the early popularization of such policies especially that of employment, significant number of nationals still had minimal education and even sometimes approaching illiterately levels. This had made it clear that the majority of state employees were misallocated, either under qualified or underutilized. If Qatar had a different economic model in the sense of extraction of finance from down to the top, this chunk of state employees would have been unneeded and in the competitive developed economies model, they would have gotten rid of. However, the purpose of this system is not similar to that of the western world, but it is simply to circulate the excess of GDP, granting a political stability through a gratified population. Thus, making the approach toward development unstable, where Qatar would have been better off investing in its human capital, education and health, and understood the long run impact it would had on development.

Moving forward, the government has recognized such challenges and addressed them through diversifying economy; education reform; labour market strategy and Qatarization. I won’t go through details of LMS and goals of Qatraization. What I would like to discuss is what is wrong with Qatarization strategy.

First, Qatarization policy is still not fully developed; the policy did not indicate which positions exactly should be Qatarized. It did not also consider that Qatarization could be more difficult in some sectors more than others, such as technical positions in oil based industries. And finally, it is not realistic and didn’t consider that transferring knowledge and technologies would take more than the time expected in the plan.

second, the policy lacks proper monitoring and evaluation system. According to RAND, there has been no deliberate strategy of evaluating the effects of initiated reforms. Even if such thing was intended to happen, the evaluation will face problems of limited experience and lack of data due to lack of administrative state structure, unmonitored population movement and other cultural factors. Due to lack of monitoring, there is no real evidence of the quality of training and care that Qataris are receiving.

What is happening is that Qatar’s labour laws give preference in hiring first to Qataris, then to other Arabs and finally to other foreigner. This could be true in the public sector; however, in the private sector where “ceo’s” are western expats, this is not entirely true. What happens is that these companies are under pressure to fulfil the required quota in a certain time which leads to misallocation of Qataris in different companies. Being in a rush does not allow enough time to create a proper training programme for them.  A lot of western expatriates do not see the necessity of coaching developing and mentoring the newly joining Qatari workface. There is no check and balance system that scrutinize the claimed or propagated high percentage of Qatarization in those companies. Many are holding low paid positions with no opportunity for skill development. And the figures are presented to the Ministry of Labour as evidence of Qatarization are thus deceiving.

Therefore, it is a big possibility that foreign labour hinders the development of national labour. In a study made by Dr Hend Jolo on Human Capital Formation within Oil and Gas Based Industry, she conducted Interviews with recently recruited Qatari workers, who had completed their industrial technical training program. She found that the majority of them were not assigned to operation and production positions which would have given them the opportunity to practice their new skills and knowledge. Instead, they were assigned trivial jobs, non-production tasks such as security guards. Even when some of them were assigned to production jobs, most of the tasks were done by their peer expatriates, which may have prevented them from direct interaction with machinery and plant. This is perhaps due to the lack of job security for the expatriate, partly the result of the announced ‘Qatarization’ policy in the sector. It is, therefore, difficult to expect expatriates to be self-motivated to train Qatari workers and encourage them to develop their skills, though their employment agreements emphasise such task.

The point here is not to put the blame on foreigners for lack of training, the public sector which is fully run by Qataris also suffers from the same problem. One should take a look at promotion and reward policies and see if they are implemented fairly. For example, at the Ministry of Foreign affairs, girls graduating with BA in political science or engineering were not given the same treatment as their fellow male colleagues who graduated from similar universities and started working at the same time. All girls from different departments were shoved in one floor and did not get any promotion or training programs or even the opportunity to participate in projects compared with their male colleagues who had two promotions in two years and were sent abroad on several training courses. This situation created frustration and disappointment among young women graduates who just started their career at the Ministry.

Third, the education system and training are inadequate to create a national workforce that could compete in global markets.  According to RAND education in the Arab region are often ill prepared to work in a global economy. Qatar’s current per pupil expenditure as a percent of GDP per capita is still relatively low. Countries with similar GDP per capita levels invest on average twice as much on their students. This suggests that Qataris will join the labor market with less preparation than their counterparts from other countries.

In Qatar, inappropriate educational background and lack of training were major obstacles contributing to the limited improvement and development of workers’ competence and performance.

Qatarization policy does not regard other factors and externalities that influence its success. To start with, it ignores the important link between education institutions and labour market demand as well as training within different corporations. Ignoring this link results in inability of those institutions in providing industry with the required technical skills.

In this situation, the government is responsible for education while corporations are responsible for training. If the basic education was not provided then this will increase the burden on corporations to spend more on training. At the same time, if employees were provided with excellent education but did not find the proper training they require it will be a lost effort.

Fourth, social attitude and cultural norms are excluded and not considered in the policy.  Despite changes and recent openness in the society, there are still differences of opportunities for education and work between men and women. Increase in women education could lead to false assumption of enhancement in their position in the labour market. There has been indeed development but it is far less than what is expected when considering their educational qualifications. In 2007, two thirds of employed Qatari women had higher education, compared with just 31 per cent of Qatari men.  One should not neglect the broader historical social and political context in which gender relations are constructed. For example, many Qatari women are reluctant to work in jobs that require them to spend long hours at work and away from their families or that involve working in a mixed-gender environment.

In the Brira file blog, an interesting point about Qatari culture was raised.

“ Arabian culture is similar to those of most Eastern cultures in the sense that it is a collective society. Arabian culture emphasizes the group. Confrontation is avoided and disagreement is conveyed privately to protect the person from ‘loss of face’. Words such as “Inshallah” (God willing) are used to convey negative expressions instead of saying a direct ‘No’. Respect for elders, the significance of tradition, family honor and expectations, concern for one’s reputation are deep-rooted principles. It is a fact that Arabs are generous, polite and value loyalty. You may compare these values to those of individualist cultures which Anglo societies fall under. These tend to place emphasis on the individual, goals and expectations of the individual are promoted, there is no need to conform to a group, and people are encouraged to rely on themselves.

These differences lead to cultural shock which symptoms might include: heightened irritability, constant complaints about the climate, utopian ideas concerning one’s previous culture, continuous concern about the purity of water and food, fear of contacting local people, refusal to learn the language, a pressing desire to talk with people who “really make sense”, and preoccupation with returning home. Qatari dissatisfaction is not aimed at expats themselves but at government policies that are overly accommodating to foreigners in managerial roles”

Fifth, government policies are contradicting and do not consider externalities that might influence outcomes of Qatarization as well as ignoring local culture influence. Current governmental strategies are adopted based on the advices and plans of foreign companies and institutes, who view the region as business projects rather than nations and governments who have a duty to build their countries, empower their citizens through a process of sustainable national development – development by the citizen and for the citizen.

The most important externality is transformation of demographics of the labour force and its effects on National work force. These changes lead to imbalance between national and foreign population as well as imbalance between genders. The sudden increase of foreign labour and cultural clash between Qataris and foreigners lead to tension between the two groups as was mentioned earlier by Brira.  Locals started to feel as suffocated minority in their own country where they can’t even speak their own language in shops and restaurants anymore.

According to Dr Ali Khalifa Al-kuwari in his article ‘Demographic Imbalance in Gulf Countries’, Governments of the gulf did not consider that by brining so much labour it could cause some infringement of citizen rights.  Negative externalities such as on infrastructure (housing, sewage, security), society (discrimination, potential assimilation, loss of culture), stability (source of discontent, political pressure), and national pride (dependence on foreigners for key functions and associated vulnerability). National choices and public decisions seem to be unaffected by the demographic imbalance, and disrespectful of the rights of citizens, including the need to safeguard their language, identity and existence. Construction expansion – a nationally unjustified choice – spearheads the so-called development; the loss of the homelands, the disintegration of the national communities, and the endangerment of the future of the coming generations

Dr Al-kuwari says that when nationals become minority groups in their countries, when their cultural, productive and administrative roles are subordinate to those of foreigners, when their living conditions are dependent on donations, administrative decisions, and on an ever diminishing legal protection, they are left helpless in an unfair competition against elite of immigrants who came from different parts of the world. In such a competition, the status of nationals in Qatar would be similar to that of the Malay in Singapore, who have been politically, culturally, socially, and economically subordinated to the Chinese immigrants.

Even after implementing the policy, there is still concentration of nationals in public sector. According to General Secretariat for Development Planning. Qataris constituted only 12% of the labour force in the year 2001. The increase of foreign labour however was so great that it made the slight increase of Qataris participation in national workforce seem insignificant. In the year 2008, Qataris constitute 12% while foreigners were 94%. In 2007, ratio of Qataris to non-Qataris in the labour force was 1:12, compared with 1:6 in 2001.

So are we a spoilt nation or an oppressed nation?

It is true that statistically Qatari citizens enjoy one of the highest GDP income per capita in the world, however, citizens do not really see much of this wealth as there is hardly any data or proof of income distribution. Some might argue that Qatarization simply does not work because people are spoilt and do not need to work.  It is assumed that since the oil boom, the average family income is roughly $60K, and most families far above this through private investments or enterprise. Therefore it is assumed that a large segment of the population does not need to work for the sake of a salary. This means they have ruled out several roles that they do not want to play in organizations or as professionals, including: administrative assistants, or entry level jobs, as well as nearly all jobs that require high contact hours or have low status such as teaching or nursing. How do you motivate a population that does not need to work?  Nationals are shying away from private sector jobs due to low pay and less benefits in comparison to government ministries and departments.
In reality Qataris are not as rich as many assume. Not paying taxes and having free utilities does not mean that the population is living an easy rich life. Each individual within households cannot afford the luxury of not working especially with the increase of inflation in the country. It might be true that Qataris do not accept certain jobs such as cleaning or watering but this is due to strict traditional values that put a lot of pressure on how individuals lead their lives. People might be afraid of losing respect in the society due to their choice of work.

All of this result in continued dependence on foreign labour; misallocation and underutilization of Qataris abilities creating tension and dissatisfaction especially among the youth.

What could be done?

It is actually too soon to evaluate the effects of Qatarization; however, this is not an excuse for not developing a proper evaluation and monitoring system to enhance the strategy. There is defiantly a need for further enhancement of education and creating strong links between education institutions and labour market demands. Without training and obtaining cognitive skills education will not pay off; therefore a strict monitoring of training in different corporation is needed to ensure quality Qatarization.

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June 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm (Uncategorized)

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Great job girls

May 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm (doha events, Qatari culture, Society, women, work)

Two Qatari women working for ICT Qatar, Engineer Noura Alabdullah and Fatima Alnuaimi have created the first Qatari website for internet protection for families in Arabic

the website:

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Summer Writing Institute BQFP

May 10, 2010 at 4:15 pm (bloomsbury, doha events, writing)

The second annual Summer Writing Institute will be offered by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing will be this May 31 – June 3, 2010.

The aim of this institute is to give participants the ability to work with professional writers in a small group setting on a particular genre. Anyone who is a resident of Qatar is welcome to apply but space will be limited to a maximum of 12 participants per track.

There will be a 250 QR registration fee for students and 500 QR for non-students all who are accepted (payable on the first day, cash only).

This year we will offer five tracks:
Fiction, Personal Essay, and Poetry in English

Fiction and Personal Essay in Arabic

The workshop sessions will be held daily starting on Monday, May 31, 2010 from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

There will also be one individual meeting between the workshop leader and each participant over the course of the week (scheduled on the first day of the institute).

Please find the application for the summer institute at the following link: due on or before Monday, May 24th at 12:00 p.m. Note that all parts of the application, including writing sample, are required for a complete application

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I Really Love Qatar .. But ..

May 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm (education, Opinion, Qatari culture, Society) ()

What do you think of this?

Since the new government took over in 1995, many policies have been changed in Qatar. A claim to democratization, development and change. A vision for an economy driven by knowledge and increase investment in human capital. Qatar have achieved a lot in such short time thanks to its investment in natural resources. Such fast development lead to its economy to be one of the fastest growing in the world. Moreover, citizens of Qatar enjoy one of the highest GDP per capita(? really?). The Human Development Index show speedy improvement in human development … etc

Catchy ha?

This is what we always hear about Qatar. Of course some of it is true, there has been great development and change. But we are still underdevelopment in so many other aspects. Sometimes I feel that the change that happened in Qatar is superficial. If we take a deep look at established institutions we will come to realize that hardly any is maturely developed.

My point is, when I saw the ad for bidding Qatar 2022 I felt dissapointed. Yes its great to have all of this, but is this what we really need now? How many billions is going to be spent on that? I think we should concentrate on things other than sport. Aspire Zone and the Asian games are kinda enough for the time being. Too many construction is going on, a lot of ugly buildings are being erected. I feel like all of this gives a false image of how Qatar is developing.

I would really love to see some investment in the environment. Isn’t that more important than sport?  Qatar has one of the worst air quality in the world because of the oil and gas industry. and yet there is nothing being done about it. According to 2007 UNDP Human Development Report revealed Qatar’s per capita CO2 emissions to be the highest in the world at 79.3 tones/capita, despite its small size; it is well above the 9th ranked United States. shouldn’t’ this be a priority since it obviously affect people’s health? Why not spend money on planting trees and creating parks in every neighborhood. And please use trees that grow here, no need to import special trees from Australia that will die in few months just to show off!

It is nice to see some green, calms people down a bit and will reduce the temperature. We have the ability to make Doha green since there are many trees and plants that could survive in a desert climate. I wish the minister of environment takes this issue seriously. And, seriously what is he doing anyway? I have not heard or seen any serious or new projects done by that ministry beside protecting wild animals. If I was the minister, I would plant a huge circle of trees surrounding Doha to protect it from sand storms and help purify the air and reduce the temperature. Then I will create beautiful parks and small gardens in every corner of the city. Is there any excuse for not doing this?

Another project that the government should invest in is recycling. No matter how much it will cost, it will be nothing compared to the cost of the new stadiums for 2022.  It is not just visible things that we should invest in. We should also put more effort into improving health care services for example. Or create awareness programs in schools or even creative advertisement on TV about living a healthy life since we have one of the highest percentage of people who suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure. People need to be educated about that. Education is not about building huge buildings and having  Academic degrees.

aren’t these things more important than sport? I would like to see real investment in people, real development. Who cares about big shiny buildings? This is a fake image of development.

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Evidence for what exactly?

April 27, 2010 at 8:26 am (Qatari culture, Society, work)

Following from my previous post, this is evidence of what has been discussed, could those who said that Qataris are whining for no reason give us an explanation now?

I am interested to here your thoughts when provided with strong evidence from CANADA admitting there is scamming going on! Or is the canadian government wrong and understand that these are ‘highly qualified and experienced’ expats???

” The president of the College of the North Atlantic, Jean Madill, tendered her resignation on Monday shortly after the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announcedthat at least a third of the staff at the college’s Qatar campus had been overpaid by $5-million. The provincial government did not say whether the resignation was linked to the overpayments, according to the CBC. The salary error means the money must be paid back to the government by the employees, according to a report in the St John’s Telegram. More than 300 Canadians are on the staff of the Qatar campus, which bills itself as “Qatar’s premier comprehensive technical college.”

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Two BQFP events

April 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm (bloomsbury, doha events, Qatari culture, Society, writing)

Event 1

You are cordially invited to participate in an afternoon of writing offered in conjunction with the launch of the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing offical first list of books.

We are pleased to offer a choice from either of the two sessions listed below; please note they are simultaneous workshops and therefore participants must choose to attend one.

For more information on Suad or Randa, our trainers, please consult our website under “Books” or “Authors”
Please RSVP by sending your name and preferred session to on or before Thursday, April 22, 2010 as space is limited.
All sessions will take place in the BQFP villa 3 at Qatar Foundation.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
3:00 p.m.

“Finding Your Style” writing workshop – in Arabic, led by Suad Amiry author of Sharon and My Mother in law; Nothing to Lose but Your Life

“Telling Your Story” writing workshop – in English, led by Randa Abdel-Fatteh author of Does my Head Look Big in This; Where the Streets Had a Name

5:00 p.m.         Reception for all workshop participants BQFP villa

Event 2

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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!

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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