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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Qatar residents encouraged to thank fuel station attendants

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Gratitude for gas station attendants campaign
Gratitude for gas station attendants campaign

In the spirit of the season, a grassroots group of women in Qatar has launched a new gift-bag campaign this Ramadan to say thank you to fuel station attendants.

Under the title “Gratitude for gas station attendants,” the 15 women and their families have been delivering bags with essentials such as toiletries, t-shirts, sunglasses and sunblock to men working the petrol pumps in the midday heat at stations across the country.

Inside the bags are cards conveying thanks to the workers in English and Hindi, saying:

“Dear brother, please accept our humble gift in appreciation for all the hard work you do for us and our country. Best regards from your Qatari family.”

The initiative, which was first reported in Marhaba, was spearheaded by Shefa Ali, a Bahraini-Briton and long-term Qatar resident, who said she was inspired to action after she met a particularly friendly petrol station attendant one evening on her way home from work.

Inspiration

Ali, the head of healthcare marketing at Sidra Medical and Research Center, told Doha News that she had pulled up to a petrol station after a busy day just before Ramadan, and had been feeling frustrated with the heavy traffic.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Then one of the attendants “greeted me with such a great smile on his face, while he was standing there in the heat and humidity,” she recounted. The experience made her want to give back to the man and his colleagues, she said.

Ali is one of a group of more than a dozen women who got together prior to Ramadan to encourage and inspire one another through the holy month.

In addition to Ali, the group members include Mariam Al Khal, Fatima Al Emadi, Noor Al Naemi, Amal Al Kuwari, Aisha Al Thani, Wadha Al Marri and Fatima Al Ghanim.

“As part of our group, we had decided to do as much for charity during Ramadan as we could. After I met the gas station worker, I thought we needed to say thank you to these men.

Many people here feel the spirit of charity at Ramadan, and give money to a good cause. But we didn’t want to just give money – we wanted to give our time and thought to people,” Ali said.

The women mapped out all the petrol stations in Qatar and, in smaller groups, have bought bags and filled them with daily items including toothpaste, soap and hats.

This month, they have been delivering the bags to the attendants, so far handing out 60 bags over the week. They expect to hand over another 50 or more this week to all the workers there, regardless of their faith.

With a target of covering every fuel station in the country, the women have also enlisted the help of male relatives to visit stations further out of Doha.

“Those we have given the bags to have been surprised, but very grateful to get them. I went back to the attendant who first inspired me to do this, and explained to him how his smile had given me the idea for the initiative. Although he didn’t speak a lot of English, he looked pleased,” Ali said.

Get involved

Ali is also encouraging other residents to take up the initiative, and involve their children and wider families to make their own packages and deliver them.

Those who would like a custom-made card to go with the bag can contact Ali directly at shefa_ali@live.com to arrange for one.

“We just want to honor these hard-working men. We want to say that their work isn’t going unnoticed. We appreciated them standing there every day in the heat and humidity to help us and we don’t take them for granted.

It’s a wonderful privilege to have them work here and we want to thank them,” Ali added.

Among the items which are suggested to be included in the bag are:

  • Caps and t-shirts;
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste;
  • Soap and shampoo;
  • Combs;
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen;
  • Disposable razors; and
  • Deodorant

With awareness of the scheme spreading on social media, some residents have highlighted that a bigger boost to the fuel station workers would be for people to follow basic safety rules when having their vehicles filled up, such as switching off their engine and not using their mobile phone.

While there are signs up in petrol stations warning against these practices, a lack of enforcement means that they are still commonplace, which could be potentially dangerous for the attendants.

Charity drives

Box Appeal
Box Appeal

The group’s efforts echo a similar initiative to the annual Box Appeal, a charity drive usually held in September to collect toiletries and other essential items in boxes, which are then distributed to laborers.

While popular with many residents, the scheme has attracted controversy as some describe the handouts as undignified, and argue that employers should be responsible for either providing their staff with these essential hygiene items, or should pay workers enough money to enable them to buy them for themselves.

Ramadan in Qatar is traditionally a time when many residents undertake charitable endeavors to help those less fortunate, although the activities of some take place year-round.

Fridge initiative
Fridge initiative

Last summer, a Qatari family began stocking an outdoor fridge near the Chamber of Commerce at Muntazah signal off of C-Ring Road with water, juice, laban and bread for workers to help themselves.

Another volunteer-led campaign #WhatIWillDo aimed to support low income workers by encouraging residents to buy and distribute bottles of cold water to laborers around town.

Organized by the group See My Culture and local community news website JustHere, a video was made and released to promote the campaign to “spread some kindness,” one of its co-founders  Khalid Al Hammadi said at the time.

Thoughts?

33 COMMENTS

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Student
Student
5 years ago

In what world do grown adults need to be told to say thank you and have some compassion for people slaving away to serve them? I’d pump the gas myself if I was allowed to.

Peaches
Peaches
5 years ago
Reply to  Student

haha, so true.

Andrew
Andrew
5 years ago
Reply to  Student

In what world? Well, in the world where the campaign to be charitable and compassionate toward petrol station workers is aimed not at their employers, but at their customers.

I think what these people are doing is tremendous, and I’m glad Doha News is helping to spread their message. I just think on another level it’s an admission of defeat that employers of these sorts of people can be ruthless, mean-spirited and greedy.

Misha
Misha
5 years ago
Reply to  Student

In this world. Adults always forget to say thank you and appreciate the people around them, even their loved ones. Why do you think there are such days as teacher appreciation day, mother’s day etc.

Why not have a day to appreciate those who do so much for us in Qatar yet get no recognition? (Wishful thinking)Most of us can’t change their situation but showing them respect and appreciation everyone has the ability to do. One of the worst things you can mentally do to a fellow human being is make them feel worthless.

Great initiative ladies!

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago

I have done so many packages for people in need in these years living in Qatar. The question that comes to my mind is always the same one: who is the sponsor of these people? Why the sponsor does not care at all of their conditions of living?

Misha
Misha
5 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Now that would be a news article!

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
5 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Yes I think the same! Everyone here should be on a living wage.

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
5 years ago

Nice article. But I also hope that everyone can tip their gas attendants especially during this Ramadan / Summer.

Giving even 1 riyal will help them in the long run.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

I normally give 10 QR on top of the gas price. I think they can do more with the money than gifts and I do that all year round not just at Ramadan.

If we all did that then they would all have a decent amount of money to send home to their families

guest
guest
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

You are an example for all of us.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  guest

Nope, just a normal guy doing what he thinks is the right thing

Jason
Jason
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I am always skeptical of tipping in Qatar. I have heard of other businesses here keeping a portion, if not all of the tips for themselves. I would not be surprised if these filling attendants have most if it taken from them.

Siling Labuyo
Siling Labuyo
5 years ago
Reply to  Jason

It’s best to give the money discreetly to the person. Also, ask the attendants themselves if they can actually keep the tips given to them.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

doesn’t everyone do that?

Amy Binso
Amy Binso
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I do give money on top of my gas price.
we were lucky enough that God gave us this money.
sharing is caring.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago

It is really nice, but even better if thanks,kindess and small QR donation given at each visit–not just in Ramadan–but even better than this: these families getting together to try and influence government to change the kafala system-because maybe then the gifts bags would not be necessary.

Paul
Paul
5 years ago

Thanks to this campaign I am trying to say “thank you” every time 🙂 As usually, I just mumble what I need while avoiding eye contact and disposing my ashtray..

DB
DB
5 years ago

Always round up on your total, too. For me, that’s usually turning 44 or so into 50, money they can use a lot more than me.

cghicks
cghicks
5 years ago

always round up, always have always will….petrol is 10 times cheaper here than UK so i think i get a bargain everytime.

Gangster
Gangster
5 years ago

A simple THANK YOU means alot plus a small gift for appreciation is fine. Just do it everyday not just for Ramadan season!!!!

Mariam Al-Khal
Mariam Al-Khal
5 years ago

We give them tips all year long but this initiative is to show more of our appreciation and thanks through a gift. It is similar to giving someone a gift on their birthday. You could very easily give your friend cash but a present is more meaningful and makes you more happy. They are a privilege. In other countries people need to fill their gas by themselves, so it’s nice to smile, say thank you and give them a present to show them our appreciation for all that they do for us. This initiative will continue after Ramadhan and we are planning many other similar gestures to other workers.

As The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity.”

A smile and a thank you goes a long way.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Mariam Al-Khal

Put this way–as being like a special gift given on a birthday–then this is a really lovely idea -and it will make the attendants feel special and acknowledged for the hard work they do. Certainly i would find it very hard standing in the humidity and heat with irate customers.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
5 years ago

I think this is great idea. Here is another question- has anyone done the math? One night at dinner, we we talking about these attendants. Let’s say each one works 8 hours, 26 days a month. Hypothetically they could see 20 cars in an hour. If only half give a tip (average 5qr) that means they would get 50qr an hour. Times 8 hours is 400qr. Times 26 days is 10,400qr! This doesn’t include their salary (Probably 800-1000qr). so could we very likely say these fellows are making on average close to 12,000qr a month? I would guess summer months are less, but in reality they are probably also working 10-12 hours, as well. How far off am I???? I would love to know if their employer gets part of their tips.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago

When we last wrote about it, attendants in Qatar were allowed to keep their tips: https://dohanews.co/for-many-of-qatars-gas-station-attendants-tips-make/

Misha
Misha
5 years ago

Some on other DN threads complain that Qataris don’t display any kindness towards laborers but when Qataris do then the words come out once again. You should tip, you should say thank you everyday, you should give money. When it comes to kindness, let’s not judge and just be happy that people are displaying acts of kindness. There isn’t enough of it in the world and it shouldn’t ever be discouraged.

And how do you know what they do on other days? Just because they started this one initiative doesn’t mean this is the only thing that they have done to show appreciation or generosity.

Kalle Kulmule
Kalle Kulmule
5 years ago

I have a suggestion which seems to work in other countries around the globe ‘treat people like you would want them to treat you’. A concept so hard to grasp here in Qatar that articles, campaigns and even the government need to raise the finger and say ‘now now, do not beat you maid, remember to provide for your pet before you leave, do not drive you LC on the pavement etc etc’ – how hard can it be to live your life with empathy and compassion towards other people as a natural way of life?

greylag
greylag
5 years ago

A fantastic initiative. Well done ladies!

Mosdeaf
Mosdeaf
5 years ago

I’m in nobody’s shoes but couldn’t an initiative like this make them feel inferior?

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Mosdeaf

If i were standing in hot sun and someone gave me a cold drink i would not feel inferior. If am doing a job and someone tips me it means I can send more money home–i would not feel inferior then when I am providing. It depends how it is done—because one can do it normally and cheerfully–or one can give something in a condescending, offhand, arrogant which would make one feel inferior.

Amy Binso
Amy Binso
5 years ago

At least those are under shade. the toughest one is the ones i see near a signal selling news paper. :(. directly under the sun.

Siling Labuyo
Siling Labuyo
5 years ago

Well done. Sometimes a simple act of kindness or some kind words can make a difference in another person’s life. I’m sure they can also do with some extra cash in the form of tips. I don’t drive, but I always remember to personally tip the delivery boy or restaurant server. Even just a few riyals can help augment their very small income. I hope your group can also take it farther and advocate with the government and with employers to actually improve living and working conditions for these guys.

archie
archie
5 years ago

Money or simple gifts can mean a lot to workers with low wages. Giving is not about if these people need it, or whether they will keep their tips, it’s about you! when you give, you will feel better, you can say you have made a difference.
Give away your unwanted clothes, gadgets, that old ipod or phone, any extras which are just sitting there in your drawers.

Atanu Ray
Atanu Ray
5 years ago

This a great effort to discover humanity. Most of us who stays and work under air conditioned shelter or room does not realise the pain and agony as how these petrol pump workers go through during summer.

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