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    Twitter debate begins about what it means to be ‘half Qatari’

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    A university professor born to a Qatari father and a Lebanese mother has begun a debate on Twitter about the reality of being ‘half Qatari.’

    Prompted by an article in Arabic daily Al Raya that suggested Qatari men are increasingly marrying non-Qatari women due to inflated demands for dowries, Dr. Amal Al-Malki, Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, began a discussion under the hashtag #ImHalfQatari.


    Al-Malki told Doha News that she created the hashtag to help raise awareness of issues which she said are “a fact of life for many” in Qatari society, including the inability of Qatari mothers to pass on citizenship to their children if they marry a foreigner:

    “These children are denied citizenship on the basis that women cannot pass on their nationality to their children,” she told us. “Although the constitution states that women and men are equal in public rights and responsibilities, Qatari women are not treated as equals.”

    She went on to explain that she believed that some ‘half Qataris’ are sidelined due to an ‘anxiety’ about foreigners within the community.

    “Modernity has brought in an influx of foreigners to the country, making us a minority in our own land. We have developed an anxiety from non-Qataris unfortunately, and we tend to preserve our culture through making it hard for outsiders to ‘invade’ it. We speak of purity of lineage and cultural cohesion as if we live in an island of our own.”

    Al-Malki also said that she believes the cultural mix in her family has benefited not just her, but also society as a whole.

    “I am different and my differences make me stand out and achieve what hasn’t been achieved before, making me a pioneer,” she said. “The moment I embraced this, I became at peace with who I am and I try to pass on my life experience and my identity struggle to my students who face prejudices from their own communities because they speak a different language, or have different cultural practices.”

    Reaction

    So far, responses to Al-Malki’s tweets have been almost entirely positive, with other children of Qatari and non-Qatari parents sharing their experiences, and other members of the community showing their support.

    Some, however, said they didn’t see the point of the campaign, whilst others said they felt they hadn’t been discriminated against:

    As well as the hashtag, a Twitter handle has also been created which invites other half Qataris to share their experiences.

    One such contributor writes:

    “My mother is Qatari and my father is not. After getting acceptances in 4 universities in Education City, I applied for a scholarship with the Supreme Education Council 4 years ago and it was rejected for no reason.

    I’ve now graduated and received no help from the SEC. I felt very helpless and that there was no justice in their decision. They say that the Supreme Education Council supports Qataris and children of Qataris but that wasn’t what I experienced.”

    Are you the child of Qatari and non-Qatari parent? Thoughts?

    Victoria Scotthttp://toryscott.wordpress.com
    Victoria Scott is Editor-at-Large at Doha News. Before moving to Qatar in 2009, she was a broadcast journalist for BBC News for eight years. She's also worked for Al Jazeera, Reuters and The Telegraph. She has a postgraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from City University, London, and an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature from King's College, London.

    44 COMMENTS

    1. Unfortunately some people have a ridiculous attachment here to the idea of pure lineage and “pure Qatari vs. naturalized Qatari”. One of my Qatari colleagues showed me once his ID and told me that he is a first-class pure Qatari. If he was not first-class the ID number will have a different digit (I think the fourth or fifth digit but I do not remember).

      Not sure if this is true or if he is making it up, but if it is true then this is absolutely disgusting.

      I have heard also that black Qataris are mostly descendants of former slaves who were set free and given the family name of their masters. They apparently do not have the same equal rights as “pure Qataris”.

      Again, it would be good if someone gives us his insight and tell us if these social classes in Qatar are true or invented/exaggerated.

      • The ID number of Qataris does vary, depending on the ‘quality’ of their family, if they have been naturalized, if they come from the royal family, and other attributes.

        It’s also true that there are Qataris who were, a few generations ago, formerly slaves. But they have since been naturalized and have all the rights as other Qataris (many of the rights that ‘half-Qataris’ are seeking).

        • Seems to be the cars too judging by the ones that have dozens and dozens of traffic violations whilst still driving like idiots.

        • The ID number is the same for everyone:

          First three digits: Birth year-1700; If you were born in 1988, it’s 288, 2005:305.

          Next three digits: Nationality on the day you got the ID number. (ISO 3166-1 Numeric – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1 )

          Next five digits: a serial number of people issued an ID,from that nationality, born that year …

          There’s no way to fit magic numbers in the system.

          • Firstly, what does ISO 3166-1 (a standard for defining geographical areas) got to do with Qatari ID cards?

            And putting that aside, you then go on to say that a naturalized Qatari will have a different ID number to someone born Qatari, right?

            • 1. The official name of the standard is Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 1: Country codes.

              They needed codes for countries, and selected to use the ISO standard.

              2. Everyone has a distinct ID number. It doesn’t change when someone changes their nationality.

              Those three numbers are not an indication of current nationality/status, A Qatari who lost his nationality keeps the number 634, an Egyptian who got Qatari nationality keeps the number 818.

              It’s quite a simple system, designed for a database. ID’s don’t change.

            • Does it not open the door to discrimination even among Qatari citizens when one maintains nationality numbers ?

        • This is a misconception many expatriate have. As explained in the other reply, Qatar follows a standard procedure for all nationalities for the ID numbers, as far as I know.

      • Anyone who says they’re “Pure Qatari” needs their head examined!

        And all social classes everyone are invented, and then exaggerated by, often times, the same people who invented them to help maintain the status quo.

    2. How about considering them full human?

      Nationality tags are an injustice to humanity and only spread division and hatred.

    3. Yes, Qataris range from European white to black African and you the ones descended from slaves you can tell by their family name. Most mainly came from east Africa.
      To talk about pure Qatari is just absurd, many have Indian DNA for example through the frequent intermarriage between Qataris and Indians that happened in the not too distant past.
      It is not about purity of hertiage it is about keeping all their wealth to themselves and not sharing it. That I can understand so why not be more honest about it.

    4. It is more like a racial discrimination yes i agree this prevails in Qatar.The Qatari men can marry a foreigner but on the other hand if a Qatari woman marries a foreigner she losses her ”citizenship” and as well as her child.A lot of Qataris take bride from for example Hyderabad,India.Does that mean the foreigner is not entitled with Qatari citizenship ??? The answer is NO she gets the citizenship & treated in society as such.But why not the Qatari women ??? There is some injustice & discrimination there…Thanx for reading i’m too a foreigner and i have seen this for d past 20 yrs..

      • Qatari women do not loose their citizenship if they marry a foreigner but yet they do not gain nor can give anything towards her husband or her kids

    5. Medical , Education and sponsorship , Qatari Mother born Kids are treated the same as aliens ( due to the lack of laws that do not exist for their position in society )
      although the mother is Qatari , they still have to be under a sponsorship with an expiration date that automatically expires if god forbids anything happens to the mother .
      i wonder what is there position in life or residency in Qatar taking in fact they do not know another home country except for Qatar
      they are doomed in a discrimination loop that could never end

        • for the sake of the argument , what does the child do if he does not know his fathers country , same as all of the half Qataris born and raised in Qatar for the past few decades , what do they do ?
          do they just pack up and leave to a country they do not know although Qatar is their home country but not by passport !!

            • alot of them do not visit back their home , since Qatar is their home !!
              i.e not all people can travel always ( even if its back home ) , some families have been residing here for the past 70 years , so no one is actually back home !! why should he/she visit back home if Qatar is their home
              Mr. Osama , let me ask you a question related to yours , do some of the big naturalized families in Doha visit back home ? i know most of them do not .

    6. I too am a son of a Qatari mother, and I fully agree with the professor. We need the citizenship to secure our entitlement to Qatar. Scary to think that one day I may be forced to leave my home, even though I was born here, and lived here all my life.

    7. With so many people now going to western countries to have kids and get escape route passports the whole “born there” mechanism is getting a bit silly but there has to be some sort of criteria for citizenship – whatever country you’re talking about.

    8. I am half Qatari, and i fully support Dr. Al Malki. We are given little rights, but constantly get discriminated against. Do you know that by Qatari law, if you are born a bast**d, you are given citizenship? However a Qatari mother cant give it to her children?? In my case, my father is Palestinian (he has been here since 1962), and I am still an Egyptian travel document holder, I am living here on an RP, and I would need a visa to enter egypt = “Stateless”. I hope things change like in the UAE pretty soon, or we will be stuck in this identity crisis forever.

    9. Racial purity is a blight not a blessing. Those who strive for it are blinkered. Strength comes from diversity. Speaking as a member of one of the most mongrel of nations, with racial mix from all across the world, including Europe, Scandinavia, Middle East, Asia, Africa – probably Mars, for all I know, I see only the benefits.

      • Qatari isn’t a race, it’s a nationality. Arabs, Persian, and Africans are the main ethnic groups from which most Qataris come.

        Race itself is very much a social construct. Most of the current racial classifications were created by European anthropologists from the colonial era.

        • An interesting point, yet still children born to Non- Qatari fathers are discriminated against. My point was actually that I believe it is good for a nation to bring in new genetic stock, to embrace new cultures,. Clearly, any nation needs to protect its identity, its borders and its citizens, but surely all citizens should have the same rights?

          • Does anyone know what nationality an illegitimate, Qatari-fathered, Filipina-mothered child gets on their Qatar ID?

          • I was simply replying to the point about racial purity, and nothing else. It’s discrimination as you’ve said to deny the children of Qatari mothers with non-Qatari fathers citizenship, but that’s sadly the reality of how it is across the Arab world.

            I have a Muslim American friend who was born and raised in the US. His wife is Canadian, married in the states, and he had a daughter that was born here. Where the mother had no problem adding the daughter to her passport, when they tried to get an American passport for her, it was a very grueling process. Both parents had to go to for one or more interviews where they were asked about so many details like when did they get married, how long they’ve been married, etc. Not really sure I understand why they had to go through all that. My friend thought that his being a Muslim, and his wife too, had something to do with it.

    10. Discrimination against half qataris with a qatari father does not even compare to discrimination against half qataris with a qatari mother. One gets the citizenship (along with the privileges) and the other does not. I know a handful of Qatari females married to foreigners (including two of my cousins and my bestfriend) and really there is little benefit of living here for them besides receiving a higher salary. Yet the papers talk about the high percentage of unmarried Qatari woman these days, no wonder Qatari woman are hesitant!

      Social discrimination here unfortunately comes in many forms. Basically if you dont fit the mold or stand out as different you can be subject to discrimination.

    11. “Modernity has brought in an influx of foreigners to the country” Not really. The influx of foreigners is due to the lack of needed human capital (both skilled and unskilled) to fill the many needed jobs for the country.

      As for the one who got rejected by the SEC, they reject applications from Qataris all the time, so, unless there’s hard proof, one simply cannot conclude that it was because the person is half Qatari.

    12. Most of the article and comments are about half Qataris with Qatari mothers; but not much info on the case where there is a Qatari father. I’m just curious:

      1. Are half Qataris with Qatari fathers treated differently than full Qataris? Or given different benefits? Or discriminated against?

      2. If a Qatari man has 3 wives, 1 Qatari and 2 non, are the wives viewed differently within the family and within society? And their kids?

      I think it’s interesting to learn about this, but it’s not exactly something I can ask in day-to-day conversation since I would never want to offend anyone!

      • I’m never offended by ANY question… people around me ask them all the time. 🙂

        1. a. There’s no “Half Qatari” … Somebody either is or isn’t Qatari… They are Qatari if they have a Qatari father…

        1. b. No.

        1.c. It depends… A Qatari who has a Saudi mother, probably not…. A Qatari with an Indian mother, maybe he’d be refused their daughter as a wife.

        2. 3 wives? That’s rare these days…

        Simple answer: maybe. It really depends on the family, their experience with such a thing, and many more things… (look at 1.c.)

        My grandfather had a total of 5 wives (never more than 4 at the same time), the last one was from AbuDhabi, their customs are so close to ours that it made no difference… Her daughters were treated exactly like their sisters. (we don’t say “half-sisters”…)

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