Qatar’s national service program puts new emphasis on military training
Starting next month, Qatari men enrolled in the country’s new national service program will now spend four weeks embedded in the army as part of their training.
According to Al Raya, Qatar’s National Service Authority has decided to make significant changes to the way the three- to four-month period of training is conducted.
Brig. Nasser Abdul Rahman Al Jaber, deputy head of authority, told the newspaper that the focus would now be “more on military training than civilian aspects.”
Qatar’s Emir signed a mandatory conscription bill into law last year, requiring Qatari men between the ages of 18 and 35 years old to train in the military for at least three months if they are college graduates, and four months if they have high school diplomas or have dropped out of school.
The changes come at a time when Qatar is spending heavily to bolster its defenses amid increasing instability in the region.
Starting in September, incoming cadets will be required to spend two months at the national service training camp in Al Shamal and one month embedded in the army to gain more experience with light weapons.
Their non-college counterparts meanwhile will spend four months at the Al Shamal camp in basic training, which will include an unspecified period of time attached to an army unit.
Speaking before the launch of the national service program, Minister of State for Defense Maj. General Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiyah said that it would help make Qataris “ideal citizens.”
Last April, Qatar’s first batch of 2,000 national service recruits began their training.
The men – who had all signed up voluntarily – shared some of their experiences on social media, giving details of their simple meals, required supplies and the fact that they had to cut their hair short.
The Peninsula reports that the new daily curriculum at the Al Shamal camp would “continue to be tough, and training will begin right after pre-dawn prayers and last until late at night.”
Cadets will also attend lectures on Qatar’s history, culture, environment and society, as well as drug abuse and the importance of physical fitness.
Under the National Service Law, Qatari men currently studying and graduates of military colleges are exempted from the training.
Those who fail their medical and those who have no siblings are also not expected to enroll.
Female Qataris are also currently not required to enter the training, and suggestions that compulsory service for women would be introduced this year have so far not come to fruition.
Even if national service is introduced for women, it is likely that they would only be assigned social, cultural and medical roles, officials have previously suggested.
Qatari men who are not exempt and fail to sign up for military service or who do not respond to a summons to do so face up to a month in jail and a QR50,000 fine.