All photos by Marium Saeed. Updated at 9:50am on May 14 to include the names of the elected candidates, which are listed at the end of this article.
Despite predictions of a dismal voter turnout for Qatar’s only elected political body, some Qataris said they spent nearly two hours waiting to cast a ballot today.
Early indications suggested that participation in this year’s Central Municipal Council (CMC) elections – the nation’s fifth – would be the lowest in the political body’s 16-year history.
This was in part due to re-districting that required voters to register again for the polls. But the main reason appears to be a widespread apathy toward the CMC, which lacks legislative powers and is limited to making recommendations to government officials.
The CMC is made up of 29 members. Three candidates have won their districts uncontested, and some 114 candidates – five of them women – are vying for the remaining 26 spots.
Though voter registration was low, at least 50 women could be observed waiting around midday to cast a ballot inside the school gym of Al-Muthanna bin Haritha Independent School for Boys. It was being used as a polling station in district 13 which includes the area around Villaggio Mall.
Another 30 women were waiting outside the gym, which was partitioned into different areas for male and female voters.
“This is the least number of voters we’ve had all day – it was even more crowded in the morning,” said a young election volunteer who asked not to be identified.
How voting works
Things appeared to be much quieter in the Maymouna Primary Independent Girls’ School, a polling station for district eight, which includes the area around the old Doha International Airport.
Approximately 150 women, and a smaller number of men, turned up to vote between noon and 2pm.
Upon arriving, voters registered with a judge and received their ballots.
With the help of volunteers, citizens headed to voting stations set up on a counter against the wooden partition separating the male and female areas.
Privacy barriers ensured each ballot was secretly marked, and election workers made sure that voters – even family members – were not standing too close to one another.
Afterward, ballots were slipped through a slot in the lid of a transparent plastic bin, which will be emptied and counted by judges once polls close at 5pm today.
Standing in line aside, the entire voting process at Maymouna Primary Independent Girls’ School took about five to seven minutes.
Candidates were present at the polling station, but were instructed by judges not to talk to voters or journalists and refrain from doing any campaigning.
One candidate could be overheard talking on her mobile phone, encouraging citizens to come out and vote by giving directions to polling stations and refuting arguments that it was too hot outside or that the voting site was too far from home.
What’s at stake
Many of the candidates who spoke to Doha News while on the campaign trail last month listed civic issues such as the need for more street lights, recreational paths, health clinics, supermarkets and parks in their constituencies.
“I want to give back to the country and leave a mark in my neighborhood,” said Ismail Abdullah Taymur, who is running in district 20 in Al Wakrah.
His campaign platform also touched on the need to tackle Qatar’s growing obesity rate as well as ensure that senior citizens are adequately cared for and supported in their golden years.
Candidates were also conscious of the need to turn the CMC into a respected political body that’s capable of reflecting the wishes of residents.
Amal Isa Ali al-Muhannadi, who was running in district 17 – which includes Al Kharitiyat and northern Al Gharafa – said the CMC lacks power and authority because “it has not proven itself.”
“It’s been 16 years since the first CMC elections and nothing much has been achieved,” said al-Muhannadi, who is running for the second time after an unsuccessful 2011 campaign effort. “I expect the fifth term of CMC to witness radical changes.”
The CMC remains the only elected body in Qatar. Legislative elections were supposed to occur in 2013, but were postponed after the powerful Advisory Council had its term extended to 2016.
Al-Muhannadi said she hopes today’s polling shows that “there is definitely aspiration for (an elected) parliament and more elected bodies in Qatar.”
According to Qatar News Agency, the elected candidates are:
1st Constituency: Jassim Abdullah Jassim Al Maleki
2nd Constituency: Saeed Rashid Saeed Al-Hajiri
3rd Constituency: Hamad Khalid Khalifa Al Kubaisi
4th Constituency: Khalid Abdullah Issa Ahmed Al Hitmi
5th Constituency: Mohamed Salem Mohamed Al Marri
6th Constituency: Hamad Khalid Ahmed Mohamed Al Ghanim
7th Constituency: Abdullah Saeed Abdullah Khamis Al Sulaiti
8th Constituency: Sheikha Yousuf Hassan Al Jefairi
9th Constituency: Fatima Ahmed Khalfan Al Jaham Al Kuwari
10th Constituency: Abdurrahman Abdullah Mohamed Ali Al Khulaifi
11th Constituency: Abdullah Salim Saeed Saad Khuwar
12th Constituency: Mohamed Ali Mohamed Al Hamar Al Azba
13th Constituency: Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al A’ttan Al Marri
14th Constituency: Mohamed Mahmoud Shafi Al Shafi
15th Constituency: Mubarak Feraish Mubarak Saleh Al Salim
16th Constituency: Mohamed Saleh Rashid Al Khayareen Al Hajiri
17th Constituency: Ali Nasser Issa Al Kaabi
18th Constituency: Mishal Abdullah Saqr Thiyab Al Nuaimi
19th Constituency: Hamad Hadi Hamad Al Buraidi Al Marri
20th Constituency: Mansour Ahmed Yousuf Mohamed Al Khater
21st Constituency: Nayef Ali Mohamed Al Ahbabi
22nd Constituency: Khalid Abdullah Mohamed Al Ghali Al Marri
23rd Constituency: Mohamed Zafer Mohamed Al Mefgae Al Hajiri
24th Constituency: Mohamed Faisal Mubarak Al Ajab Al Shahwani
25th Constituency: Nasser Ibrahim Mohamed Issa Al Mohannadi
26th Constituency: Mohamed Lahdan Ali Abu Jamhoor Al Mohannadi
27th Constituency: Rabia Hamad Ajlan Al Ajlan Al Kaabi
28th Constituency: Saeed Mubara Saeed Ali Al Rashidi
29th Constituency: Nasser Hassan Dandoun Al Kubaisi
“His campaign platform also touched on the need to tackle Qatar’s growing obesity rate as well as ensure that senior citizens are adequately cared for and supported in their golden years.”
–Why do you use a photo of an overweight, clearly western, woman? Since he’s obviously speaking about his fellow Qataris wouldn’t it be prudent to use a photo illustrating such?
He has no permission to photograph an obese Qatari woman. It would be revealing and offending.
Didn’t you get the memo? It is obligatory to depict high obesity rates by exclusively using pictures of Westerners. After all, only white people are affected by obesity.
We don’t have that photo.
It could be considered racism or defamation to show a non-Qatari woman instead for the sake of “illustration”. Excellent journalism.
LOL, seriously? That’s your answer? Then get it. You ARE a news source right?
Deleting for trolling.
Really? This is your answer????
The person above is telling you that the picture is out of the article’s context and you tell them that obesity is a rising problem on all ?? hahaha amazing.
Haha, so true, I wonder how they will tackle obesity. There is no inspiration to lose weight if you are not allowed to wear figure hugging/flattering clothes. They don’t have to worry about anyone seeing their love handles spilling over tight jeans.
HAHA. figure hugging? flattering clothes? apparently you come from a nation of healthy, skinny ppl. oh wait . NOOOOOOO.
This comment should be deleted for stereotyping.
Using Westerners in ads also rampant in Clinic advertising in Qatar where doctors and nurses are depicted as Western when actually staffed Asian or Arab.
Because the thoob and abyaa distort our body shape rather well. You know, like a muumuu :p
Did any of them mention anything about expats in his program? I understand that it is focused on Qataris’ issues but one assumes that we expats are also part of Qatar, at least to some extent.
You are disposable (as in disposable diapers), don’t you know that?
Well I am not a commodity I am a human being 🙂 And even if what you say is true, it would make sense to care about “disposable” people as long as they are in use.
No, it doesn’t work that way here. With the exception of a very very small number of expats that are close to the inner circle and have wasta, you belong to one of two categories: (1) nobody at work, nobody outside, or (2) somebody at work, nobody the moment you step out of the office. It seems that you belong to category (2). The moment your relationship with your employer turns sour you become disposable. If you belong to category (1) you become disposable the moment you get on the plane to Doha.
Interesting rationale though…and sadly true
Might be worse. Do local women have wasta? Anyway, if (1) I’d not be here in the first place, if (2) then at least I took the money I’d not gotten elsewhere.
Are you high?
Nope. Is there anything wrong with what I have said?
Just hopelessly detached from reality.
Someone might has stood on the platform of “let’s send lots of these expats home”. I’m sure you would have voted for that
Moaning expats, yes. Who wouldn’t?
Moaning expats are set home, moaning nationals get a pay hike 🙂
Deleting for personal attack, and subsequent hateful thread.
sorry ,even though expats are in Qatar in huge numbers . but in which other countries around the world ppl do include EXPAT (NOT IMMIGRANTS) in their campaign.
To be fair a lot of countries don’t need to include expats in their campaign because they have adopted the jus soli system and/or naturalize long-term residents and therefore do not have an 85% expat population like Qatar.
But nonetheless it is clearly an unimportant issue for Qatari voters.
It’s not ‘unimportant’, it’s impossible considering the number of foreigners in Qatar. The local “culture” would disappear in no time.
Some of the steps the government takes to ‘preserve their culture’ are questionable, such as not granting citizenship to children born to Qatari mothers. I see that as counter-productive.
its the norm here, since you carry your father s last name , not your mother. & DUAL citizen ship is not permitted here because of the benefits
So, basically it’s a money issue (benefits)? I thought Qatar was the Richest Country in the World.
its the benefit you get for being QATARI/or marrying one, money does bring a lot of gold diggers/ opportunist .it the same issue in the west (Green CARDS) . ppl will try to marry ppl for the benefits
What a world. I married for love.
good luck , i heard that divorce rates are very high in the West. GOD helps them.What a World
Qatar has pretty high divorce rates 😛
not 50% percent !!!
As it should be!
also you cant have the benefits of being Qatari. while holding another nationality passports .
In the US there is a 5 r waiting period after marriage so I guess those wishing to work the system better be patient.
I think the point here is that you cannot ignore expats regardless of their legal/technical status. They make up 85% of the population so every decision, every plan, every budget and every new service has to take that into consideration. The fact that some candidates ignore the epats issues on purpose to avoid alienating some of their electors shows that they are only after the position and that they are not fit to manage and lead on nationwide issues. Eventually I think the government is right when it decided to keep them without any real power. If they get the power they will most likely mess things up rather than fix them.
Yes, we did hear from people running that they planned to represent their entire district, including expats.
That’s stunning journalism: “We did hear from people running…”. Well done.
Deleting for being a troll.
I think you should have focussed a bit more on this. I would have loved to challenge them on their views about expats and how they are planning to help us. I think the previous CMC was pushing for stripping many categories of expats of the right to hold a driving license (which happened eventually).Let’s hope this one will not come up with similar restrictive recommendations.
“Yes, we did hear from people running” — I did a double take on that phrase!
Be careful of what you are saying.
So the obvious question is…who’s behind the veil?
Let’s be realistic here guys. Yes we may make up 85% of the population as expats but we are still temporary economic immigrants. The candidates, whilst they may or may not care about us, they have to focus their campaign on those who VOTE. There is no point preaching to the expats it is not the expats that are voting. This is not unique to Qatar. It is what happens in every election worldwide.
Not a single Al Thani? Weird.
It’s something similar to the UK…