A month after hundreds of Qatar residents were forcibly evicted from their homes in downtown Musheireb, a local community group has been raising money to help the men afford new lodgings.
The fundraising campaign, which was launched by I Love Qatar (ILQ), went live on July 8, but has so far only attracted 15 donors, and raised some QR3,000 ($870).
However, the money has helped pay a month’s rent for seven men who have relocated next to the Mercure Grand Hotel Doha City Center.
They and several others were told to leave their homes during Ramadan, as the Musheireb area – formerly a haven for male expats on fixed incomes – becomes remade into a more upscale part of town.
In an email to Doha News, Ramy Khalaf, an ILQ team member, said the goal of the fundraising campaign is to alleviate some of the stress that many of the men have felt after suddenly losing their living spaces.
Many of these expats have not been successful in finding new homes due to the high cost of rent outside of the Musheireb area.
Speaking to Doha News by phone, Badruddin, a 31-year-old Nepali salesman who works for Amir Perfumes, and one of the seven men helped by ILQ’s donation drive, said:
“Most of the people still haven’t found accommodations. They’re living with relatives or friends, paying minimal rent in gratitude for having a place to stay.”
Following the initial eviction order, it took a few weeks for many of the former tenants to clear out of their Musheireb neighborhood.
Despite a police presence, some people kept returning to their homes to sleep at night. Others slept on the street, next to their possessions.
But now, no stragglers can be seen in the formerly crowded area.
A shopkeeper at a store near the buildings that were emptied said that the area is now deserted.
“No one comes back here anymore,” he said. “They’re all gone. They didn’t have a choice; they came back to take most of their things and left.”
He added that he did not where people had relocated to.
In an effort to find people to help, ILQ contacted some of the workers interviewed in Doha News’ initial story to inquire about their current housing situation.
Money at work
Badruddin, one of the many people who spoke to Doha News the day after the eviction, now resides in a three-bedroom apartment near the Mercure Grand Hotel in Musheireb.
He and seven others are renting two of the bedrooms there, staying four to a room, and the original resident of the flat is in the third bedroom. The collective cost of the two rooms is QR3,000 a month, and each tenant pays about QR400/month.
The payment is a steep increase for the men – almost double the QR200 to QR250/month they used to pay in Musheireb.
Badruddin’s employer was initially sympathetic to his housing problem, allowing him to take the day off to look for new accommodation after the eviction.
But his superior has not not increased his monthly salary of QR2,300, which includes a QR200 housing allowance.
For Badruddin and his colleagues, the QR3,000 donation from ILQ evoked mixed feelings, Khalaf said:
“They were overwhelmed with joy and relief, a feeling which quickly faded at the thought of next month’s rent. This prompted them to ask whether we had further contributions that could help them through a couple more months.
Since we’re out of money, we were neither able to help them nor several other callers who heard that we had helped their friends with rent.”
Khalaf added that there are still many people in need of help, and urged people to keep the donation drive going:
“We are very grateful to those who have already contributed, and urge others to help out because we can’t stress how much of a difference this makes to these men.
The visible sense of community the gentlemen we helped initially displayed made everything worth it; it was obvious they felt that there were people who care about their well-being, people who want to close the divide…That’s seven down and loads more to go.”
The world’s richest country needs charity contributions to help legally employed residents whose stay here is completely in the control of a local sponsor. Shameful.
Only richest by per capita GDP, not by wealth. By total wealth Qatar is still poor compared to say most European countries, China, Japan and the US.
By total wealth, Qatar is around 50th world wide–comparable with Peru and Algeria.
However, it is painted, when one group of people systematically hold another back it is discrimination. This happens in both housing and wages here. It is unfortunate really, as the economy would be much stronger if the money paid to workers didn’t leave the country. Rather, if it was a healthy economy the people working here could afford to bring their families, keep their wages here, have a home etc. That money would then be spent in local businesses, which in turn raises the standard of living of everyone. The labor system here creates an economic flaw. In the long run it will be damaging to Qatar. Lets hope some wiser heads prevail and find a way to balance the Qatari national pride with the desire of others to be integrated with society.
You hit the nail on the head here. There is also a distinct difference between generational wealth, or true wealth, and being rich. The one lasts generations, the other is fleeting. As long as Qatar’s wealth leaves the country by Western Union, it will be the latter.
Because Qatar, among other gulf countries do not give nationalities to people living here for 10-20-30 even 40 years or more, they can keep the number of ‘locals’ down and show a higher GDP per capita. Its basically being greedy with their wealth. Another sign of this is that countries in this region of the world are some of the least generous in the world in terms of giving per capita.
Now compare that to Norway (my country), which gives nationalities to people living there for 3 years (even the construction workers who came from Pakistan in the 70s – 80s) or more and has a much larger population, is richer than Qatar in every single measure of wealth, including GDP per capita. And we accomplished it all without using slave labour.
The reason Norway naturalizes residents is because the fertility rate is extremely low which is threat to them. Btw, Qatar does give citizenship to those who are eligible according to the Qatari law. The number of years lived here is not all what it takes to give a citizenship, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done in your country but what works perfectly for you doesn’t necessarily work for others.
^^ According to the World Giving Index’s report for 2013 Norway was ranked 11th, Qatar was 9th.That doesn’t include the donations given on a daily basis by the people here that doesn’t go through charities, its actually a bad thing for us to mention them.
Qatar does not even routinely recognize the children of Qatari mothers and foreign fathers. It is one of the most restrictive systems on earth, and to pretend it has anything to do with anything other than wealth protection is ludicrous.
The report you cite needs to be taken into context. Given that residents of Qatar pay virtually no taxes, their giving is low, especially compared to residents of places like Norway who pay the majority of their income in taxes to pay for the welfare of its residents and yet continue to give generously to other causes.
Qatar does recognize them as children of a foreign father and a Qatari mother. They automatically inherit the father’s nationality along with his last name. They can apply for a Qatari citizenship which has to go through a committee. Nothing to do with wealth protection, it’s more to do with culture. Jews do not consider a person a Jewish person unless he is born from a Jewish mother. Now imagine a Chinese person keeps telling them how wrong their system is, funny isn’t it? Same case here, ethnocentrism.
There is nothing generous about paying your taxes to keep your government and the welfare state running.
If that’s the case, why is it that so many other Muslim and Arab countries recognize children of citizen mothers and foreign fathers as citizens? Like I said, wealth protection, not culture, especially when the father is Saudi or Yemeni or Emirati. And, before it had wealth, Qatar’s citizenship laws were MUCH more flexible. Like I said, “to pretend it has anything to do with anything other than wealth protection is ludicrous.”
And I am not suggesting Qatar’s system is “wrong”. Qatar as a sovereign nation has the right to determine who is and is not a citizen. I am, however, saying that it is restrictive and driven by a desire to protect the wealth and opportunities of existing citizens.
Paying taxes in a country such as Norway is generous, because it is constitutional monarchy in which the citizens and elected representatives voluntarily determine their own rates of taxation. In other words, they CHOOSE to pay a high rate of taxes for the welfare of their fellow citizens.
Not all Muslim and Arab countries are alike. Qatar has a very conservative tribal society that is not comparable to Arab countries like Egypt or Syria. Before Qatar had wealth it didn’t even have an immigration department, I don’t see your point and if it did it would be just as it is today. Oman is not as wealthy as Qatar, and the procedures for getting a citizenship is just as hard as Qatar.
A Saudi or an Emarati father have a better chance to get their children (or even themselves) a Qatari passport than someone who is not a GCC citizen. Again, it has to go through the committee that checks many things including their relatives who are Qataris or from the same tribe along with many other things. Never have I heard that they do a background check for their “wealth”, I don’t think it even matters to them. Those who do get a Qatari citizenship are usually not as wealthy as other Qataris. If it did have anything to do with protecting the wealth then they wouldn’t have got the citizenship.
Paying taxes for themselves is not generous. I believe it’s a good socialist system but paying for yourself through the government is not a charitable donation which is what our topic is about. When you pay taxes you expect a service back so the higher rate of taxes you pay the more you get, nothing generous about that. In donations you don’t expect something back you do it to simply help others in need.
By wealth protection, I mean: limit the number of citizens in order to keep current citizens wealthier. When Qatar was relatively poor, and up through the 1970s, becoming a citizen was relatively easy–hence the ethnic diversity amongst Qataris. When Qatar became wealthy, the citizenship process was much more strict. I don’t know that many Qataris, but even I personally know at least a dozen GCC Arabs who are married to Qatari women and whose children are not Qatari. Again, it’s Qatar’s right to determine its rules of citizenship, but to pretend it is not about wealth protection and that it is not restrictive is ludicrous.
Voluntarily increasing one’s tax burden in order to centralize funds to aid poorer members of society is incredibly generous. The bulk of taxes paid in these countries are by relatively wealthy people to support social programs at home and abroad for relatively poor people. In such countries as Norway (which is one of the highest rates in the world), the bulk of citizens feel that the government is the best entity for properly collecting and distributing the needed social services rather than private entities.
If Qataris suddenly banded together and voluntarily introduced an income tax of 58% (which is akin to Norway’s) to centrally pool funds in order to provide workers in Qatar better living conditions and subsidized wages, I would consider that incredibly generous.
Repeating myself one more time is pointless. Let’s agree to disagree.
I was feeling the same. Thanks for keeping the conversation civil this time. When you do, I really enjoy your comments and insights. Salaam.
This is not unique to Qatar, only 19 countries globally grant citizenship to a person with only 1 birth parent being a citizen. For the most part only children born in Western Hemisphere countries grant citizenship to people born in the geographical barriers of the country. So Qatar is not in the wrong on this…..despite articles deriding the laws. Even India, the largest non-Qatari population in Qatar has similar laws.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Qatar is wrong to have its practices. As a sovereign nation, it has every right to determine the basis of its citizenship. My objection is when people pretend that it has nothing to do with wealth protection or that it is an open, liberal system.
And although only 19 countries might grant citizenship automatically with only one birth parent as a citizen, many, many, many others do it effectively automatically through a straightforward application process. Also, where is the 19 from? I know of at least a few dozen in which only one parent has to be a citizen, including non-Western countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt (sort of), Nigeria, Brazil, and Iran (although the child has to be born in Iran if only the mother is Iranian).
And Qatar ranks 14th in giving…..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Giving_Index
That was in 2012’s report. Link to 2013’s report is in my comment above.
For an index done ever 2 years….that makes it the most recent data…..or we could look at the trend which was upward by 4 points…..at any rate….there are many European countries on that list that fall quite a bit lower…..meaning…being generous is no the issue here….its about the wages and standards of living and residency implications.
Why does Qatar have to give citizenship to those that come and work here? I think the argument is a deflection from this issue. Saying they are being greedy with their wealth is a poor argument. You are from Norway so you are rich, give 90% of your wealth to the poor of the world! the very, very poor. If you do, I’ll be impressed.
It seems Qatar could use some more affordable housing options, funded by the state, to help support the workforce OR the employers need to address this by paying a living wage. Expecting people to reside in one of the most expensive cities in the world with a $50 a month housing allowance and a salary of $631 is not sustainable.