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Monday, September 20, 2021

Qatar’s only elected body rebuffed after asking for more authority

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Some members of the Central Municipal Council have expressed disappointment after a request for judicial powers was rejected, local newspapers report.

Qatar’s only elected body, which locals can vote for every four years, has always served only in an advisory and monitoring role, reporting violations and making recommendations to government ministries. It has sought to increase its authority over the past few years, without success.

According to the Qatar Tribune, the CMC had requested powers to investigate minor violations, collect evidence and testify as witnesses in court. But the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning recently turned down that request.

The Peninsula added that the CMC planned to pursue the matter further after referring the MMUP’s decision to its legal committee. The newspaper quotes member Sheikha Al Jefairi as saying:

“There is a misunderstanding about what we have asked and what is stated in the law. The law is talking about monitoring the criminal aspects. What we are seeking is the power to monitor daily violations of the civic laws affecting people’s lives.

We can take up such issues with the authorities concerned, using the same legal process that the civic inspectors and other monitoring bodies are following. Our job will be complementing their role.”

The effectiveness of the CMC has been questioned for years, by Qatari voters and members themselves.

Last fall, a report produced by the CMC’s general secretariat found that only one-third of some 111 recommendations made during the council’s last session were acknowledged by authorities.

The next CMC election will be held in 2015. Meanwhile, Qatar’s first legislative elections, which were supposed to be held in 2013 after decades of delays, has been postponed until at least 2016.

Thoughts?

38 COMMENTS

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Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago

Hmmm, maybe the Ministry doesn’t have as much trust in the politicians as the public does? 😉

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
7 years ago

Rofl. The odds of this being published today. Let’s wait for loveitorleaveit now 😛

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

i’ll be interested to hear from our Qatari friends what they think about this. Is the CMC enough to placate them or do they still want the elections that were promised in 2005? (Probably the same planner was used as for NDIA….)

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Could have been worse, instead of using the NDIA planner the the CMC could have called upon Kuwait as an example.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Do you hear Qataris complaining about that promise made in 2005 not being fulfilled? No, because most don’t really care. I dare say the average Qatari doesn’t really see the benefit in democracy or how it would work here.

Even those expats, who claim that democracy is very important to them, often don’t vote or know what’s going on back home. Not to mention the fact that they’re willing to work and live here, despite being subject to the kafala system (modern day slavery we’re told).

I personally think that giving the CMC some real power over civil matters would be a good experiment.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No they don’t care and your right, it seems to be working for both parties so why change. The government seems to do a pretty good job of looking after the locals, even if the most senior positions are biased towards certain families.

The only place I know where everyone votes is North Korea, with our friend Kim elected with over 99% of the vote. God bless democracy.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Qataris don’t complain because for now things are bright and rosy. As I said before will the locals be happy when the welfare state runs it’s course, and it will, and they still have no say in how their lives are run?

I’m not one of those expats. I take an active role who who represents me from local to national levels. Living here and working under the Kafala system and our participation in politics back home have no correlation. And most who do move here did not know about this system before moving here. Especially the laborers and lower paid workers.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Why do I get the sense that you seem to have taken my comment, which was a reply to a question by someone else, as if it was directed at you?

At any rate, humans often have tendency to try to understand and analyze why the other/s choose to do the things they do, or live their life the way they do, but the analyzer/s almost always base that analysis on their own life choices and how they would react in similar situation.

Good for you on being politically involved; but what about the rest of your nationals, be they back home or abroad? I’m pretty sure that at least back in the late 90s early 2000s, the voting rate in the U.S. was around 55-60%. Has it ever reached 90% after that?

As for not knowing about the sponsorship system, 1) People should do their homework before moving to a different country; 2) Why stay, for many years at a time, once you find out? I mean, this is something you should be able to find out about as soon as you arrive, even before you start the job. Is it not because those who choose to stay see that putting up with the restrictive rules is worth for some other reasons?

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

In light of the turmoil in the region and the Arab world as a whole, any moves for more freedom and power to the population is not a comfortable choice for the decision-makers. There are many red lines and taboos and if you give more freedom then it would be difficult later to prevent people from crossing red lines and taboos. Ultimately, the Qataris have to decide themselves and any form of lecturing from outside will have negative effects.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

As a Qatari, I don’t really know what to think about this. I agree with Yacine, though, that any outside lecturing will garner negative effects… I mean why is it an expat’s business whether Qatar grants freedom or its people or not, right? I’m guessing that’s going to be the thought crossing Qataris’ minds during any debate regarding this topic. Personally, I don’t think I really care because to be honest it doesn’t really affect me at all. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal… We know we live in an absolute monarchy, a monarchy that also enjoys widespread support from the population, and to be honest, after watching the events of the Arab Spring unfold, my conclusion, sadly, is that democracy is not worth fighting for… It just results in violence, extremism and bloodshed, which can also be seen in previous revolutions in Russia and. France. I say ‘long live the Emir!’ 😀

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I hear this assertion of widespread support often, but I have never seen any documentation. Is there any that you know of?

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Not really, no. Remember Qataris live in one large tight-knit community, and although that probably does not suffice as adequate proof of widespread support for the international community, it is true that the al-Thani family is widely respected and supported. This support for the royal family comes from both the older and younger generations. Take my grandfather, for example. He has a lot of respect for the royals, and constantly recounts how, in the ‘old days’ [LOL], when there were constant shortages of food, etc, how members of the royal family would distribute food in the neighbourhood, basically preventing people from starving to death. There has always been a good relationship, I guess, between the al-Thani family and the people, and although they are sometimes faced with opposition, the opposition does not get that much support. I don’t know if that answers your question :/

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I appreciate the effort on the answer, but as you say, it doesn’t constitute anything like ‘proof’ of support. I would be content with the anecdotes if they fleshed out some hard data, but by themselves, no, they don’t cut it. Though I suppose hoping for a nation-wide confidence survey is unlikely to happen anytime soon. I would guess that the CMC, and to a lesser extent the Shura council, would fare badly in such a poll.

I sometimes wonder how much of an echo-chamber effect there is in these matters? Every voice of support for dictatorship that I have seen on this site is matched by a voice of discontent from former colleagues in their more frank moments. The lack of hard data makes this topic a difficult one to have an informed conversation about.

I’m curious why you spoke to revolution, instead of evolution? There are many peaceful examples out there, Sweden/Norway, Poland, Australia, Canada, the Czech republic and Slovakia, etc, etc. None of the Arab Spring examples that you gave have achieved democracy, so I can understand why you would want to learn from their lessons. Though, why such pessimism about the potential for violence? Do you actually believed that if Qataris started to transition to being citizens there would be the potential for violence? If so, why?

As for lecturing, I’m not familiar with any official state-level lecturing aimed at Qatar. Has there been some reported in the Arabic language press that I have missed? I am familiar with the observations in the media that it is ironic that Qatar promotes for other nations what it withholds for its own, which is a fair observation, but that doesn’t in any way constitute ‘lecturing’. Clearly comments from folks on message boards are purely personal opinions and don’t carry any weight.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

I spoke of “revolution” rather than “evolution” because that was the method used by people across the Arab World to achieve democracy. Personally, I’m of the opinion that governments are very much like natural organisms that will eventually evolve to suit the needs of their people. Take Qatar a couple of years ago, under the reign of sheikh Khalifa, women at the time were not allowed to drive. Today, Qatari women have much more freedoms than they did just, what, 15 or something years ago? It’s important to take things one step at a time

As for my pessimism about a democratic transition, well, think about it. Qatar is an extremely tribal society. A mixture of tribalism, a lust for power, maybe a power vacuum is dangerous and would most definitely cause infighting. Qatar is not mature enough for that kind of transition, and many do not want to see it either. I know you don’t believe me, but most Qataris are content with the current political situation 🙂

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

What most people seem to miss is that elections, strikes, protests and sit-ins are the least appealing aspects of democracy. However, the freedom to voice one’s opinion without being threatened, to be able to criticize whomever you want irrespective of their title, position or connections, to be able to take major decisions in your life (marriage, work, travel, especially for women) on your own, and to have a fair justice system that holds everyone equally accountable, are some of the positive aspects of democracy that no sane person would reject.

I understand that you don’t want your country to go through the same troubles as other Arab countries, but to compare Qatar to Egypt, Syria or Yemen is actually an insult to Qatar. This country has abundant wealth, a limited space and a tiny population; all the ingredients for a modern developed country. It should therefore get inspiration from the likes of Iceland, Norway and Denmark. I am afraid what is holding it from doing so is the fear of the unknown, the lack of know-how and possibly the absence of a firm commitment to change from the decision-makers.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I agree with you, it seems to work at the moment and the people are happy so why change.

Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

In addition to violence, extremism and bloodshed, democracy also often results in a complete inability to accomplish anything.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Ryan Miller

It’s not democracy that causes this. Most all countries have these “problems” democratic or not.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

In other words; problems in “democratic” countries are never caused by the political system there, but problems in “non-democratic” countries are always / mostly caused by the political system!

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No. The statement was what it was. Timothy McVeigh blew up the building in Oklahoma city for his political views. Political problems have pervaded all societies.Presidents Lincoln, JFK, McKinley were assassinated for political reasons. Attempts on others for the same reasons were not successful. Arch Duke Ferdinand’s assassination started WWI.

But generally the “non democratic countries” are less developed and less educated and religious extremism takes over. Islamic extremism is killing the MIddle East, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Yemen and parts of Asia namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. And to a lesser extent the Philipines. But that’s all the West’s fault right? And bloody Israel. Other than the IRA in N Ireland there aren’t many christian extremist to a large scale.

Actually it is the West’s fault to some extent. When oil was discovered in Saudi by westerners they needed a massive workforce, much like today, to get the money out of the ground. I know from Egypt’s experience that many Egyptians came to work there. But when they went home they also took home the strict religious values instilled in them while in the Gulf. Remember that Cairo was the Paris of the middle east, lifestyle and all. Watch movies from that period and you’ll get a glimpse of the lifestyle. Women in full veil began coming back in droves with their husbands and that was the beginning of extreme religious ideology there.

Not sure how we got here but that’s my 2 cents.

Mr. B
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

One thing to consider is that a body like this with increased powers would make the city run smoother because it would spread responsibility around. That’s one huge problem in all the Gulf states – insistence by rulers in controlling too many decisions. Qatar is a city-state, and so that means the Al-Thanis aren’t so far removed as in a bigger country, but nevertheless giving local bodies like this more responsibility is a measure of progress. Nobody seems to be saying, “Let’s do democracy tomorrow,” because honestly Qatar lacks the civic society necessary for a successful democracy. But getting that civic society means devolving power and letting a few, minor bodies make a few more, relatively minor decisions, until one day they’re able to make more, bigger decisions.

Net-guy
Net-guy
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Sounds good and your right to a point, but your entire happiness is because of the place your where born. You one of the lucky ones, to be completely happy in your homeland but, imagine if you were not, you might have a different perspective.

Omar Alansari
Omar Alansari
7 years ago

I guess some here confused the CMC with the Majlis alshurra. CMC is like the city hall it doesn’t do much with politics and it doesn’t really have an important role to play.
Unlike majlis al shurra which suppose to evolve into a parliament. According to the Qatari constitution, Majlis alshurra is the legislative authority. no law is passed without its consent. it monitors the gov. through votes of no confidence. amends the constitution and the state’s annual budget.
Its elections is being delayed since 2007. next promised date is 2016.

Omar Alansari
Omar Alansari
7 years ago
Reply to  Omar Alansari

so it is the real HIA not CMC lol

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
7 years ago

The CMC members knew what the boundaries of their role were when they were elected. I don’t think they ought to stand for election for one sort of body, and then, after election, demand extended powers.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

Ivan, this is what I was talking about in maybe not such eloquent terms.

“Personally, I don’t think I really care because to be honest it doesn’t really affect me at all. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal…”

Anonymous I mean no disrespect but if that’s the mentality then it won’t change. An evolution, which usually results from revolutions, requires a willingness to risk what’s near and dear to you to achieve an ends. If not those in power will be hard to separate from that absolute power. I’m not saying it has to be violent. As you pointed out Sweden/Norway, Poland, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic and Slovakia went through revolution without all out war. But it was revolution all the same.

Like it or not Qatar is a welfare state. For little or no effort the population is well “paid” in welfare payments. The business market here is not a free enterprise market and those in the inner circle get obscenely wealthy. You want medical treatment abroad, education for your kids here or abroad, … it is taken care of by the state. Life is good for the locals and honestly I can see why most would feel like the above quote. But welfare societies are not sustainable in the long run financially as well as making your population “less motivated”. What happens when that well runs dry? Once the money shrinks substantially and all is not paradise will the population be happy without a voice? An elected to body with no teeth is allowed but they have about as much power to do anything as my student council in High School. Relatively speaking.

We expats assume that NOT having democracy is a bad thing. Personally I do as well. Eventually people will wake up and want to make decisions for themselves.

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago

Welfare state? Perhaps, but not for all citizens. Medical insurance coverage for Qataris has just been introduced, April 2014! Education? You all know the story!
Other simple services? You have to beg ministries and government agencies for them.
Got connections? Good for you. But this does not represent a modern system based on justice.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Truth-Seeker

When you get large sums of money, or any sum of money, without working…that is welfare.

Whether the education system is good or not is not my point.

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

You can keep your point no problem.
My point is: not all Qataris get an easy life. When you add to that mismanagement of government resources, the result is what we encounter every day, low quality services, unqualified people in management positions, unmotivated staff, etc…

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Truth-Seeker

“low quality services, unqualified people in management positions, unmotivated staff, etc…”

That has nothing to do with being a welfare state or not. the fact that all Qataris get money for being Qatari without even working…

If a Qatari goes abroad for medical service it has been covered for quite a while now. College education the same. The gov’t buys the Qatari loyalty because they know that one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds them. Keep the locals happy and they will do as you say and put up with such “inconveniences” as mismanagement, unqualified people, low services and the unmotivated staff. If the staff be Qatari it is a byproduct of welfare. If not Qatari, it’s a product of the monopolies that ruin the free enterprise and open market system.

If I sell BMWs and I treat you like kaka (and Alfardan has to be the worst BMW dealer around) can you go to another dealer and buy? NO! Goes for many services and products here. Open markets and competition make better prices and services as you’re competing against others for that market share with better prices and customer service. Without the competition you have the unhappy consumers you find in Qatar. Meanwhile those that own the monopolies get obscenely rich on the backs of the untrained workers and the, what in most countries is illegal, monopolies set in place.

I’d say overall Qataris have a pretty cushy life and to intimate otherwise will probably elicit an eye roll or two from most and anger from the hundreds of thousands who backs this country has been built on for roughly $5 / day. So please lets pause on the pity party.

Qataris want a “better” life? Roll up the sleeves of the thobes and show us how it done. But thats the problem they don’t KNOW how it’s done and are happy with the status quo.

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Maybe Qataris know that they can import people who are willing to roll up their shirt sleeves and do the job for $$$,$$$, but the quality is still low!

Win
Win
7 years ago

There are quite a few things I dislike about Qatar and personally I think there is no excuse to delay changes to laws that go against basic human rights fundamentals. That being said… I also personally do not see why anyone would want to rock the boat when it comes to who rules the country. Why go against a ruling dynasty that has fed them…given them material wealth and made them among the highest earners in the world and in most part have shared not all but a large part of the economic success of the country with her people. So far ( with a caveat ) … The Al-Thanis have done a good job in keeping most of the Qataris happy…until the tables turn…I see no need for Qataris to look towards democracy. So far… absolute monarchy seems to be working fine and well here for the locals.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Win

And they got that without having to move off the majlis couch. good deal if you can get it I guess. Pretty boring existence if you ask me though.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

Democracy is like love, a romantic notion that most people idolize and look for, but even when we find it, it rarely works like we’ve imagined it would, and we often end up losing faith in it due to our unrealistic expectations of it.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Tell the people in N Korea that.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

If only Iraq had nuclear weapons like North Korea does, then they wouldn’t have been invaded and destroyed 😉

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No there probably wouldn’t be anything to invade as that cracker would have used them on the Iranians sometime in that 8 yr war. Or maybe on the Kurds up north.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Cracker? Oh, you mean curious George, or perhaps Darth Cheney ^_-

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