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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Wealth vs. happiness: True cost of change in Qatar up for debate

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Updated at 11:05am with counter-points from a Gulf analyst

Has Qatar’s vast wealth brought Qataris happiness? That’s the question posed by journalist Matthew Teller, in a recent BBC feature that argues the country’s rapid growth has actually left its native residents frustrated, overwhelmed and afraid.

In the article – a transcription of an audio piece for BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent – Teller asks a number of Qataris to share their feelings about their country’s immense growth, and its effect on their lives.

“We have become urban,” Dr. Kaltham Al Ghanim, a sociology professor at Qatar University, told Teller. “Our social and economic life has changed – families have become separated, consumption culture has taken over.”

Meanwhile, a Qatari woman in her 60s tells Teller of the “beautiful simplicity” of her youth, before the country’s oil brought it untold prosperity:

“We were self-resourceful once. It’s painful to lose that family intimacy,” she said.

On Twitter, some expats this morning appeared to agree:

But not everyone found the article to be thought-provoking, or accurate.

In a post on his blog this morning, David Roberts, a lecturer at King’s College London and author of the soon-to-be released book, Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-state, accuses Teller of writing yet another “drive-by Qatar article.”

He writes:

“Indeed, what a nightmare it must be for graduating Qataris to ‘be faced with 20 job offers.’ Really, with this sentence, the article jumps the shark in a naked attempt to magic up controversy where plainly none exists.

As for a sexagenarian Qatari woman complaining that life used to be ‘beautifully simply,’ I don’t know where to start. Suffice to say that I imagine that today’s air-conditioning, education for her children, exponentially wider opportunities for all, trips to London for holidays, and trips to Frankfurt for medical treatment might begin to help her reconcile her awful modern existence.”

Still, Teller points to the country’s high divorce rate, growing obesity epidemic, dissatisfaction with employment opportunities for graduates, the country’s class system, and a loss of key cultural and family values as evidence that many Qataris are not wholly comfortable with the rate of change.

He ends his piece with the thoughts of an American anthropologist currently living in Qatar:

“Have some sympathy for Qataris.  They’ve lost almost everything that matters.”

Do you think change has come at too high a cost in Qatar? Thoughts?

59 COMMENTS

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desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

I’ll be very interested in hearing the Qatari side of this. While the gas has brought great wealth I’m pretty sure it’s brought great angst and debate. Problem is that many people the world over think that money brings them only happiness. That plus being a huge minority in your own country. This issue has been touched on occasionally in comments but want to hear more in-depth honest thoughts.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

The article, I think, is an accurate portrayal of most Qatari people’s thoughts. I went to a school where, at one point, I was the only Qatari in my year group. The main problem is the cultural barrier and both sides’ inability to understand where the other is coming from. At the same time, we tend to feel that our cultural identity is being completely wiped off the face of the earth. Because of the sad state of the independent schools in the country, many are opting to send their kids to better American or British private schools, and the problem is, some Qatari youth nowadays are incapable of speaking the Arabic language proficiently (I mean standard Arabic here). In one of the Arabic newspapers today, there was a cartoon, and in it was a man standing next to a wooly mammoth. The basic message was that the Arabic language was becoming extinct in schools in Qatar, or something along those lines, and will eventually be like the wooly mammoth, erased off the face of the earth.

And then there are the massive changes happening in Qatar due to the unabated pace of development. Nobody is claiming they want to go back to a time of back-breaking poverty, but what I want at least, is for the pace of progress to be slowed, giving us time to digest and think. The fact that we are a small minority in a country which has a population continually increasing means Qataris are more suspicious of change and more unwilling to change their ways. After all, this is our country. Why should we change to suit the needs of others who will work here temporarily for a couple of years and then inevitable leave? The BBC article is great because it attempts to show our side of the story. Don’t assume that the feeling of intimidation due to massive change is limited to the older generations… The young feel it too

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Very well said again..just one point of issue the reason us expats leave is that there is no investment in accepting and encouraging expats to stay. (And many of my friends have gone stating they cant deal with the dangerous lawless roads). Im not entering the debate about citizenship but perhaps a more lenient approach to expats who have committed to the development of Qatar for X years are provided with a residence permit on retirement as long as they are self funded? With the addition of being able to purchase a villa/apartment. Secondly the 51% ownership of businesses throws a lot of us off, I for one have considered opening a business here but I am not going to be held out for ransom by the 51% ownership requirements. Perhaps that would increase expats in feeling that Qatar is home, not just a contract. Just throwing it out there.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

I completely understand what you’re saying and you’re right. However, I can’t bring myself to urge the implementation of the suggested changes. At the moment, I personally feel like the ratio of non-citizen to citizen is far too high for any Qatari to be comfortable with permanent residents, etc. As for the issue of 51% ownership… I don’t know, I haven’t really put much thought into it, and perhaps decreasing the percentage could increase innovation and the number of entrepreneurs in the country. Also, I don’t mean to offend because you seem like a really nice guy/gal, but Qataris aren’t exactly keen on letting expats stay in the country and calling Qatar home, again because of the whole minority issue 🙂 These are my honest opinions

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Refreshingly Honest Answer !

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Very refreshing answer thankyou. I do feel for Qataris being overwhelmed by the influx of expats and often think it must be so so frustrating at times. The rate of change and development would be difficult for any nationality to take. Who knows who holds the answers but it must be driven by Qatar nationals to shape the nation and home they want , the rest of us have home nations and must respect the shape this nation takes under Qatari leadership and vision. Sometimes I think too many consultants and advisors are just confusing the whole vision.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Retirement here? You should rob a few banks first as your savings will go whooooosh, out the door in no time.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

How so?

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Simple fact that it’s an extremely expensive country to live in when you’re making money and it gets no cheaper when none is coming in. No one’s paying your rent, your car payment, your home leave allowance, health insurance, etc when you’re retired.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Not compared to where I’m from its not, on a whole most everything is cheaper, much cheaper in fact. Apart from rent, but not a whole lot difference, and one of my points was to be able to buy a villa or apartment, oh and wine or beer at the 5 stars now that is just insulting. But overall much cheaper indeed.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

But I’d bet where ever you’re from (?) there is something interesting to see/do? Here most expats spend lots of cash getting out of here for respite as often as possible. I’m obviously speaking of the mid to upper rung expats as the lower rung expats have no chance to travel often and definitely no chance to retire here. The rent on my villa is $84000/yr. In 3-4 yrs time I could OWN a really nice home where I’m from. Along with the something interesting to see/do that won’t cost an arm/leg to do it.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Everything except cigarettes and sodas cost way more than where I’m from.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Fair points you make. Australia by the way, where everything is more expensive apart from rent and alcohol, although QDC alcohol is about the same price as take home alcohol in Aus. We do travel a lot for a break but also because we are so much closer to Europe etc. Anyway interesting discussion you raise some very valid points, $84000 a year on rent is outrageous, thankfully we are in a company compound.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I think a slow down on the development would be a good idea, allow all sides to catch their breath and adjust to the new status quo. Does Qatar really need the World Cup and all the attention it brings? I don’t think so and it doesn’t benefit ordinary Qataris.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

When expats call for change it is more to do with things like a change in the Kafala system, change in the law re driving violations. Expats are not asking or expecting Qataris to change their culture. Why would we want that? Who would want to live in a homogenized environment that looks the same or similar enough to not invite curiousity from new comers?
That’s the complaint expats have about Dubai. It’s too western and doesn’t feel like the Middle East. It’s nice for a weekend but I always like coming back to Qatar.

The article shows one side of the story. That’s all. It would have been good to see other perspectives on the progress Qatar has made.

But I do agree with the pace of change. It is very fast. The Doha I see today is very different from the Doha I arrived to in 2006. In 8 years we have seen incredible change. Some of it is good and some bad. But I guess that is the price of progress.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

Forget about all the talk of kafala and workers conditions and consider the life of the Qataris. A society that has changed out of all recognition, a huge generational gap between parents and kids, not to mention grandparents that might as well come from a different planet. Then add to that fact you are hugely outnumbered in your own country and if you can’t speak English not only are you denied the best jobs you find everyday tasks difficult to achieve.
On top of that you get expats coming to your country and moaning about this and that but have no intention of leaving.

I know the reply will be they are rich, they should count themselves lucky but is all the money worth it? Plenty of wealthy people commit suicide because they are not happy.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

They are simply BORED with their wealth. How bout they do a lil soul searchin and visit and live with less fortunate countries or switch places with a labourer, the sick ,the elderly, famished children, living without electricity and running water for a day..that should give em a lil perspective and that they be reminded that they have a wonderful government providing , watching out and looking over for their total well being, prosperity, security and welfare.

Masboro
Masboro
7 years ago

I have read the full article on the BBC and it seems very ‘one sided’ to me. The older generation complaining that life was much more ‘simple’ in the ‘good old days’, ignoring the fact that their life expectancy has increased greatly due to the new medical facilities available to them. Equally students are ‘confused’ by the huge number of job opportunities available to them, a problem that students in the UK would welcome. I am sure that all generations affected by change, the industrial revolution in Europe for example, have echoed similar sentiments but when I see the new generation of Qataris with their designer lifestyle, expensive cars and the life possibilities that are the envy of most citizens of other countries I don’t see any desire to return to the ‘good days’ of pearl diving or the Bedouin lifestyle.

Sloqat
Sloqat
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

There will always be a generational gap and selective memory about the good old days. Coming from an ex-communist country I can tell you that there are many people who are still nostalgic about the old days and “how easy and fair” life was. They’ve of course conviniently forgotten about how you couldn’t even buy toilet paper or detergent regularly and that your carreer was dead before it began if you din’t have strong political “sponsors”. So from that perspective the article is biased.
The fear of losing one’s traditional values and culture to progress and globalization is present in any country I’ve ever been to, but progress cannot be stopped. The price the Qataris would pay to stay (go back to) the good old days would probably be much higher thatn the one they are paying now trying to adapt to today’s world.
I agree effort and attention will be required to preserve traditions and their culture, but I also feel that Qatar has been doing a fairly good job of it so far (much better than many other countries).

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

There is a generation gap, and the yearning for the good old days is very selective. Forgotten is the failure to educate women, poverty, access to health care, etc.

But with wealth does come measurable problems that have been seen in other societies–increases in obesity, increase in daily stress, less sleep, less personal time, etc. (all things that reduce happiness). Qatar is not unique in this regard, merely following the trend of many other countries. Studies of the UK and US have constantly shown greater contentment in the 1960s and 1970s despite real household income being much, much lower.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

While people might quibble with various points in the original story, it’s hard to disagree with the central arguments: the outpouring of wealth in the past decade has not necessarily increased Qatari’s happiness, health or security. Sure, some are better off and happier, but plenty are not. As a Qatari acquaintance succinctly put it to me some time ago, “our country’s soul has been sold for price of a Land Cruiser.”

But, to be fair, other small countries who found themselves to be suddenly rich have faired much, much worse in the long run. Look at Nauru, once the world’s wealthiest country per capita, now poor and an wasteland.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago

I worked in Bougainville Papua New Guinea at the end of the civil war. Bougainville was wealthy before the war, the jewel of the pacific due to the copper mine. However working with the people over the years they told me they were happy with their lifestyle in the villages rather then the consumer lifestyle that was when they were rich. Granted they wished for better education, medical care etc, but in the happiness sphere they told me they were happier living the traditional way. I think that David Roberts misses the point in defining happiness in material and consumer wealth as opposed to defining happiness within, culture tradition family and social connection.

MrJames
MrJames
7 years ago

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’

Andre Gide

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago

Interesting and thought provoking topic. I am often asked by friends back home what it’s like to live in such a wealthy country. My response usually includes the adage “money can’t buy happiness.” I may not be meeting the right people here, but in all my world travels I’ve not encountered a people group that comes across overall as perpetually angry and frustrated. I can understand some of the possible obvious reasons as stated in the article, and agree that sudden wealth and rapid growth can induce issues. It’s definitely a healthy topic to discuss.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Money can’t buy happiness? Lol I would rather be miserable with money than miserable without it.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

I’d like to hear from LoveItOrLeaveIt but seems she only flames and trolls. Lets hear some intelligent discussion.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

intelligent?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Only one I see trolling here is you. As for intelligent discussion, most my attempts to engage with you have shown that you repeatedly make absurd claims and sweeping generalization about Qataris with no supporting facts whatsoever. How about you work on your own “discussion skills” before you point your finger at others.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I tell you what show me one instance where LoveItOrLeaveIt has brought ANYTHING intelligent to the conversation and then I’ll work on mine.

I bring plenty of supporting evidence. I’m not going to regress into a shouting match with you though. What sweeping generalizations would you be referring to?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

You didn’t bring any evidence to prove your claim about all Qataris being paid for being Qatari. Same goes for claiming that most terrorist are Arabs and Muslims, and that Qatar has the highest per capita carbon emission BECAUSE of how Qataris live. Where was your supporting evidence for any of those claims? SHOW US!

As for Loveitorleave, maybe she just doesn’t feel like wasting her time writing thoughtful comments to people who are not worth it. Regardless, there is no reason for your bringing her to this discussion.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

So are you saying Qataris are not paid? My Qatari friends say yes. Need phone numbers? And how would anyone live so high without working without welfare payments. Again common sense.

Most terrorist ARE Arab but mostly Muslim. I’m not going to do your homework for you but show me I’m wrong. Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine (PLO), Syria, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi, Yemen, Somalia, …Should I go on? And please don’t say the US are terrorist. Without the US, France, GB, etc things would be a lot different in this area. Unless you really want to live under Sharia law. And who’s going to stop them. The guys who can’t be bothered to walk into any store and sit outside incessantly blowing their horns? Like the sky is blue some things are common knowledge.

I did not say they have the largest because of the way Qataris live. But then again what’s causing it? The causes of CO2 emissions…Electricity-Huge amounts used and the production is generated from burning fossil fuels, Transportation-I rarely see a Qatari in anything but a gas guzzler, and Industry-Same same. the production of cement is a huge contributor. What’s everything here made of? I know I know you don’t have wood. Doesn’t make a difference to the argument. Do you want numbers? References?

YOU brought LoveItOrLeaveIt into OUR conversation not me. Short memory. And she doesn’t write “thoughtful” comments to anyone on this site. It’s why we always ask why she’s on here.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Again with the negativity… Gosh! Must suck to be miserable all the time… Cheer up 🙂

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Just replying to the question. I’m not miserable at all. Just many things here make no sense.
Money can’t buy happiness and nothing represents that more than the local pop.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Or all the privileged white people who get paid the most of all expats and yet they’re the ones who complain and hate the most.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

“I’d like to hear from LoveItOrLeaveIt but seems she only flames and trolls. Lets hear some intelligent discussion.” This is your own comment, you started this whole thing not me.

Do my homework for me? ROFL, no, I did your homework for you when I gave you a link to your own FBI numbers that shows Muslims are only responsible for 6% of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005. I also gave you a link to a poll that showed most people in the world considered George W Bush to be a bigger threat than Saddam Hussain or even Bin Laden. You ignored all that.

http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/not-all-terrorists-are-muslims/

Yet again, you fail to prove your claim with anything but “someone told so”. Epic fail!

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

6% in the USA? Wow! Now how about the world as a whole? Nice cherry picking your “facts”. And from the Loonwatch.com. Really reputable site there my man. lol. go through last weeks news and see what happened in it. 200+ girls kidnapped and sold between members of Boko Haram, Dozens in Syria by those wonderful guys, against the same guys they’re supposed to be fighting WITH. Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan…

And I’d say that while you say 6% conveniently you left out numbers of dead. Over 3000 on 9/11 so I’d say again you cherry pick your information to make your point. How many did the other 94% kill?

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/28/syria-crucifixion-video_n_5049835.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/reports-abducted-girls-forced-to-marry-extremists/2014/04/30/5bb2ad0a-d061-11e3-a714-be7e7f142085_story.html

and

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/sunni-muslim-extremists-committed-70-terrorist-murders-2011

the short version…

The report says that in 2011, a total of 10,283 terrorism attacks across the world killed 12,533 people. Terrorism also is blamed for 25,903 injuries and 5,554 kidnappings.

“According to NCTC, of the 12,533 terrorism-related deaths worldwide, 8,886 were perpetrated by “Sunni extremists,” 1,926 by “secular/political/anarchist” groups, 1,519 by “unknown” factions, 170 by a category described as “other”, and 77 by “Neo-Nazi/Fascist/White Supremacist” groups.”

A whopping 71%

Listen we’re not going to agree on this so lets agree to disagree.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

lol You know, I’d love to continue to debunking your “facts”, the same way Jon Stewart does O’Rielly, Hannity, and the rest of them, but I’m sure there are better things to do with my time.

PlanetCitizen
PlanetCitizen
7 years ago

This BBC article is ridiculous, the problems Qatari society is facing are the effects of Globalization, its effects are faced by every individual in every country across the planet.

Globalization states to evolve or choke till you evolve.

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago

Ok, I’ve thought long and hard, and I’ve decided to take one for the team. Just give me your excess money, let me deal with the horrors of wealth.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Can I join your team? I feel a real need to do something for the community.

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

No, sorry, I must carry this burden alone. I won’t be easy, but I’m willing to sacrifice myself 😉

KK
KK
7 years ago

There is no such thing as ‘good’ old days. We only seem to remember the pleasant moments. Anyway, I notice a very materialistic lifestyle. Apart from MIA and some ad hoc exhibitions and local events here and there, I do not notice much else that refers to culture. Lots of young qataris in our company want to go abroad to seek additional training (preferred location : London) or require medical help (Germany) or go with friends on holiday (Bangkok). Last observation, many qataris is our company earn QAR 10,000 to 20,000 per month; and that is not a lot of money; so wealth is not available to all.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  KK

But that 10-20k goes on top of the money they get for just being Qatari.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

“on top of the money they get for just being Qatari” What money do Qataris get for just being Qatari? Do you have any numbers and sources of information to support your claim or is it just the usual!

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

So you are going to tell me Qataris do not get welfare payments? From your thin skinned remarks I’d say you’re Qatari. My Qatari friends tell me they do and many people have brought that point up without anyone questioning it’s validity.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Once again, you use the lame argument, “everyone agrees with what I said”! Where is your evidence? And no, Qataris don’t get welfare payments. Some Qataris get social assistance, just like many people in the U.S. do. We get universal health care, just like all civilized developed countries do.

And thin skinned, please; when I asked you about white privilege in the U.S. (becasue you often like to talk about Qatari privilege) your knee jerk response was about how you didn’t have any.

Lastly, I don’t believe for one moment that you have any Qatari friends who told you they get welfare payments, in fact, I find it hard to believe you have any Qatari friends, period.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Just ignore him

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You are right 🙂

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

For one I’m pretty sure I never uttered, or wrote, that “everyone agrees with me.”

I should clarify my past statement…The friends I speak of are part of the royal family tree and while not at the top of of the royal family tree they DO get allowances given to them. Also if you’re in university there are allowances given or if you’re out of work. When one graduates from college you get land/house and very low interest large amount loans that have over the years been forgiven by the gov’t. Being the royal family tribe is very large in encompasses many locals.

My knee jerk response? It’s the truth although that can be relative. Do I have white privilege over a poor black/asian/indian, etc man? Those groups might say yes but I’d say it’s more an economic privilege/ I’m also better off than many white men. I’ve not gotten a few jobs because the company hiring was looking for a black , an asian or a woman and better if you can be all three. Since I’m neither… and you will tell me that there is NOT Qatari privilege here? lol

Believe what you want. I’ve lived all over the world and have friends on 6 continents. That said I would say it’s very difficult to make local friends here and the Gulf in general. The locals are very insular and seem not in the least bit interested in sharing their lives with expats. For various reasons which I understand but still doesn’t mask the fact of the difficulty. That frustration has been expressed many times on this site by many expats. When your only interaction with locals is the ones who drive like idiots and very realistically COULD kill you by their actions, or the guy who smokes even after you ask him not to or breaks in the line in front of you that you’ve waited in for 30 min… They might want to be a bit more hospitable and act less entitled. Just my opinion, no facts stated, hopefully I won’t have to footnote everything.

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago

Lyrics from a rapper by the name of CASE:

“I don’t know what they want from me… The more money we come across… the more problems we see”

and from Jay-Z {of course, I’ll replace the explicit words.}

“If you’re having (money) problems I feel bad for you son… I got 99 problems but (money) aint one…!”

Boo-hoo Qatar. LOL!

sadam
sadam
7 years ago

They still have oil … so what are they crying about? . How bout they do a lil soul searchin and visit poor countries or switch places with a labourer, sick ,abandoned elderly, famished, living without electricity and running water for a day..that should give em a lil perspective.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Whilst I understand where you’re coming from, I think your comment was uncalled for. We are grateful for the wealth that has arrived because of gas and oil, and are aware that many across the world fare much worse than we do. As I stated earlier, our main concern is the really fast pace of development, and the feeling that our culture is being eroded. We’re not asking for people to pity. As you mentioned in your comment, there is a lot of poverty in the world and a lot of problems much bigger than the “we need to save our culture” argument given by, I would say, the majority of Qataris. But does every nation in the world also not focus on its social issues? Although the issue of the preservation of identity is nowhere near as important as say, solving the problem of climate change, it’s a concern many Qataris have. And in my opinion, it’s a concern we should have, along with the situation of workers in the country. This issue should not be disregarded.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Thank you for your insight. It’s finally great to hear someone grateful for being blessed with abundance and for having wise leaders in the government, i was almost made to believe the State’s citizens has taken it’s good fortune for granted. But we’ve all seen the government has made great strides in preserving the local culture like infusing modern and preserving old architecture in almost all facets of infrastructure developments , as for the social costs i think it hasn’t really eroded it must have been “diversified” might have been resulted from studying/travelling /living abroad, globalization, media and whole lot of influence of factors which are inevitable…or the suffocation of too many expats perhaps?

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

With a lot of the expats being here for a long time, I wonder how they feel about how Qatar has developed over the years? How the drivers enjoyed traffic free roads? Fridays a day of rest with most shops closed until late afternoon? Less crowded beaches? I know over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed a big change.
Think instead of wanting everything immediately, they should have had a bit of patience and develop slowly and more structured.
The Rest of the World is ripping off Qatar by charging excessive amounts for importing food, construction materials and other goods. Salaries are also inflated, and if things progressed gradually, would there be the same need for extra schools, housing and roads? Everything still done, maybe take a few years longer, but with less people and less cost.

Abdulla Al Khuzaei
Abdulla Al Khuzaei
7 years ago

I am a Qatari citizen studying in Rome. Contrary to what most people assume about Qataris and their opportunities in education, there is a problem. I graduated from an international private school, however, I lacked the motivation to pursue my high-school education with my full potential. When I graduated I did not have a sufficient Gpa to get accepted to the schools that were on the National Scholarship Universities list. I’m sure that some Qataris can relate to my situation because one of the popular assumptions is that ‘i don’t need to do well because I’m going to get a job anyway’. There is a problem with the motivation to pursue education. I’m now happy to say that I am graduating in May, 1 year early (I really found my passion for learning), with a BA in Communications and minor in History . In pursing my studies, I came to learn theories that better the understanding of what is going on with Qatar today. With the qualifications that I achieved I have been more engaged with critical thinking and Media curation. So I am going to curate BBC article to see the issue from an ethical framework.

The BBC article is clearly one-sided. The fact that this article was broadcasted on local BBC services, it is subject to the UK’s Office of Communications broadcasting code. I would like to point out that this article violates the code of “Due impartiality and Due accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions” ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/contents). So the BBC can be sued and the BBC can be effectively fined for this article. I will not deny that the article does bring up some core issues with Qatar but the way it approaches them is somewhat troubling. When the article uses the quote:

“”We have become urban,” says Dr Kaltham Al Ghanim, a sociology professor at Qatar University. “Our social and economic life has changed – families have become separated, consumption culture has taken over.”·

I find it troubling to assume that families are truly becoming separated just because Dr. Kaltham Al Ghanim said so, I would have liked to sociological research that proves this rather than believing such a broad statement.

When teller says: “Qatari family life is atomising. With children almost universally being raised by nannies brought in from the Philippines, Nepal or Indonesia, gaps of culture and outlook are opening up between the generations.”

I am a Qatari and I was not raised by a nannies.

In regards to this quote: “We were self-resourceful once. It’s painful to lose that family intimacy,” she says.”

It is true that life was much simpler in the past, everyone was poor and everybody knew each other. However, I find it hard to believe that families are losing intimacy because the country is becoming wealthier.

I believe that the main problem that the BBC is trying to cover is the effects of Globalisation on modernity and identity.Globalisation consquently affects people’s identies by homogenizing them. It is true that the culture consumption is also aiding in this problem, however, one cannot be so oblivious to see that there is a STRONG effort to develop and shape Qatari identity. These efforts include National day parades, the new Al Rayyan (Qatari) television channel, Souq Waqif, Katara, and countless others.The Kafala system is what has the most media attention these days and the articles also said that “Qatari society is defined by class, which is often linked to race. It is desperately unequal.” I find this hard to believe because you cannot assume that Qataris are just so broadly seen as these ‘de-humanizing’ sponsers that exploit migrant workers. If Qataris are so terrible as sponsers then I urge some media attention on the conditions of migrant workers in first world countries, I’m sure that bedrooms with more than 10 people will look familiar. It’s unfortunate that traces of colonial perceptions of the ‘other’ still exist. Qatar has always been a significant trade location in the MENA region since before its establishment. Qataris have been around people from different cultures for a very long time and in doing so we have shared values of those cultures into ours. For example, the henna wedding tradition originates from India, local cuisine is heavily influenced from India as well, most Qataris originate from Iran as well and in turn brought more contributions to what Qatar culture is today. I personally always treated people with respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. I urge everyone who reads these articles to speak to a Qatari so that they understand where I’m coming from. In response to the American anthropologist who said that Qataris lost everything that matters, we have not lost anything. Qatar’s economic change has had an effect on Qataris alike but we will never forget our past. Change is the only constant and Qataris are simultaneously growing with this change. There is a lot of pressure on us citizens but our country has only existed, as a state, for 43 years. What we need is time and education (also more efforts to challenge obesity). By 2022, I hope everyone will see what those two solutions can achieve.

Abdulla Al Khuzaei
Abdulla Al Khuzaei
7 years ago

I am a Qatari citizen studying in Rome. Contrary to what most people assume about Qataris and their opportunities in education, there is a problem. I graduated from an international private school, however, I lacked the motivation to pursue my high-school education with my full potential. When I graduated I did not have a sufficient Gpa to get accepted to the schools that were on the National Scholarship Universities list. I’m sure that some Qataris can relate to my situation because one of the popular assumptions is that ‘i don’t need to do well because I’m going to get a job anyway’. There is a problem with the motivation to pursue education. I’m now happy to say that I am graduating in May, 1 year early (I really found my passion for learning), with a BA in Communications and minor in History . In pursing my studies, I came to learn theories that better the understanding of what is going on with Qatar today. With the qualifications that I achieved I have been more engaged with critical thinking and Media curation. So I am going to curate BBC article to see the issue from an ethical framework.

The BBC article is clearly one-sided. The fact that this article was broadcasted on local BBC services, it is subject to the UK’s Office of Communications broadcasting code. I would like to point out that this article violates the code of “Due impartiality and Due accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions” ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/contents). So the BBC can be sued and the BBC can be effectively fined for this article. I will not deny that the article does bring up some core issues with Qatar but the way it approaches them is somewhat troubling. When the article uses the quote:

“”We have become urban,” says Dr Kaltham Al Ghanim, a sociology professor at Qatar University. “Our social and economic life has changed – families have become separated, consumption culture has taken over.”·

I find it troubling to assume that families are truly becoming separated just because Dr. Kaltham Al Ghanim said so, I would have liked to sociological research that proves this rather than believing such a broad statement.

When teller says: “Qatari family life is atomising. With children almost universally being raised by nannies brought in from the Philippines, Nepal or Indonesia, gaps of culture and outlook are opening up between the generations.”

I am a Qatari and I was not raised by a nannies.

In regards to this quote: “We were self-resourceful once. It’s painful to lose that family intimacy,” she says.”

It is true that life was much simpler in the past, everyone was poor and everybody knew each other. However, I find it hard to believe that families are losing intimacy because the country is becoming wealthier.

I believe that the main problem that the BBC is trying to cover is the effects of Globalisation on modernity and identity.Globalisation consquently affects people’s identies by homogenizing them. It is true that the culture consumption is also aiding in this problem, however, one cannot be so oblivious to see that there is a STRONG effort to develop and shape Qatari identity. These efforts include National day parades, the new Al Rayyan (Qatari) television channel, Souq Waqif, Katara, and countless others.The Kafala system is what has the most media attention these days and the articles also said that “Qatari society is defined by class, which is often linked to race. It is desperately unequal.” I find this hard to believe because you cannot assume that Qataris are just so broadly seen as these ‘de-humanizing’ sponsers that exploit migrant workers. If Qataris are so terrible as sponsers then I urge some media attention on the conditions of migrant workers in first world countries, I’m sure that bedrooms with more than 10 people will look familiar. It’s unfortunate that traces of colonial perceptions of the ‘other’ still exist. Qatar has always been a significant trade location in the MENA region since before its establishment. Qataris have been around people from different cultures for a very long time and in doing so we have shared values of those cultures into ours. For example, the henna wedding tradition originates from India, local cuisine is heavily influenced from India as well, most Qataris originate from Iran as well and in turn brought more contributions to what Qatar culture is today. I personally always treated with people with respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. I urge everyone who reads these articles to speak to a Qatari so that they understand where I’m coming from. In response to the American anthropologist who said that Qataris lost everything that matters, we have not lost anything. Qatar’s economic change has had an effect on Qataris alike but will never forget our past. Change is the only constant and Qataris are simultaneously growing with this change. There is a lot of pressure on us as citizens but our country has only existed as a state for 43 years. What we need is time and education (also more efforts to challenge obesity). By 2022, I hope everyone will see what those two solutions can achieve.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago

Indeed the article was poorly written and presented.
More indicative of the worst form of modern journalism that panders to the concept that only bite sized, sensation driven snippets of information can be absorbed by the modern reader. Sweeping generalizations quoted by ad hoc ‘experts’of knowledge in the field add that frissance of ‘ ooh it must be true if Dr So&So says so’.

The article touches on truths but does not explore them fully.
Qataris have not lost everything. What a patronizing rubbish comment. Au contraire, as was said earlier this country does a very good job of holding on to their culture and history.

But as someone said earlier, those who are disillusioned, bored unmotivated and rich should go out into the world and do some good or just get some experience of what the harsh realities of life are like when money is an issue. Even if all that happens on return is they value what they have and thank God for it.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
7 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

Anything written or presented on Qatar or Qataris is treated with almost microscopic attention, which in turn polarizes opinion. The BBC Article was ambiguous, vague and in truth, patronising in parts. Kudos to Mr. Al Khuzaei for taking the time out to write an articulate response on this often acerbic and fractious forum. In reality, no one, expat or Qatari have the full grasp of the social and economic ripples taking place now and their future consequences. The inevitable (and painful) transition underway is of course, taking away some of the core elements of what was “Tradition”. Wrestling with the implications of what it means to be Qatari, how to maintain a balance between honoring your culture and integrating into the wider global community are serious challenges. The us and them mentality (from both sides) will only perpetuate unless increased opportunities for dialogue and undertstanding are attempted. I for one will try to do my little part, I do get frustrated, but reading comments from a local like Mr. Al Khuzaei at least give me encouragement that there is an opportunity to make our current “Home” a better place for the future.

صـقـر الأسـود
صـقـر الأسـود
7 years ago

I, for one, think a lot of credit goes to Qatari leadership and the government for trying their best to remain as connected as possible to their culture and Bedouin roots, while keeping up with the inevitable progress. The entire world is changing at a fast pace; commercialism and consumption culture is everywhere and Qatar is no different; but despite all the social repercussions, nations evolve bit-by-bit, one-step at a time.

Qataris are getting better education and career opportunities and they are investing their thoughts and talent in the betterment of their country. At the same time, they are able to carry forward almost all, if not all, the nuances of their cultural traits. Almost always when I see young Qatari boys and girls, they are in their traditional dresses speaking Arabic, even their spare time activities are cultural like sitting in a ‘majlis’, smoking ‘sheesha’ or taking a trip camping in ‘ramal’.

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