With reporting from and photos by Navin Sam
Ahmed Koya, an Indian expat working in Qatar, woke up extra early on his day off this morning and headed to the Corniche, hopeful to catch a glimpse of the annual National Day parade.
But he, like thousands of other men who turned up to the waterfront without women or children, was turned away by the police.
“I come here every year as early as possible,” Koya told Doha News this morning. “Today I came at 5am, with the hope that they’ll let me through – but then they sent me back.”
In recent years, Qatar has been supporting its rapid development by hiring hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, mostly from impoverished countries.
Many of these men are married and have children, but live away from their families while working here.
The influx of these workers has skewed the nation’s demographics, so that the male to female ratio is now 3:1.
Likely to make women feel more comfortable, police have been turning “single” men away from the parade in droves during at least the last two National Days.
Instead, authorities have been urging expats to check out special National Day events during the same time as the Corniche parade at other venues, including West End Park and sports clubs in Al Wakrah, Al Khor and Al Rayyan.
While these activities are appreciated and enjoyed by thousands of people, many residents have said it hurts to not be allowed to attend what most people consider the highlight of National Day.
Speaking to Doha News today on the outskirts of the parade, Indian expat Mohamed Shahid said, “They could at least organize a separate area for the bachelors.”
And in a comment on Doha News, Max shared his experience about being prevented from watching the parade this morning:
“I understand the need for crowd control but I am a 46 year old Professor from the UK working at Qatar University, I know we would accommodate people in the UK at parades with a lot more respect. This is an easy problem to fix just make the parade slightly longer and make use of all the road space also if single males are a problem segregate the crowd.
It’s a bit sad when so many people turn up to watch the event and show their allegiance to to their new country. Was looking forward to the parade but next year please make it clear on public posters that the event is for families only.”