Browsing 'middle east' News

Ramdan in middle east_Qatar

The Holy month of Ramadan is about to get underway and Qatar, as well as the entire Middle East region, is high on excitement. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. Muslims are required to refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and sexual relations. In some interpretations, swearing is forbidden. Eid al Fitr marks the End of Ramadan.

Ramadan 2018 will start on Wednesday, May 16, and will end on Thursday, June 14. The non-Muslim expat community will find it quite a stretch and will need to remember important dos and don’ts. Non-Muslims, young children, the sick, people with mental health illnesses, travellers, the elderly and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breast-feeding or have recently given birth, do not have to fast.

Since Ramadan is just a little over two weeks away, the routines in Qatar will change drastically. From beautiful decorations to Iftar feasts and lesser working hours, Ramadan is taken quite religiously here. Muslims are expected to follow the creeds of Ramadan, both in public and private spaces. They keep their thoughts and actions pure and use the month-long period for spiritual reflection. They rein in unwanted sentiments, such as anger, greed, envy, lust. Gossiping is considered unhealthy. They also mull over their spiritual beliefs, and strengthen their devotion by reciting the Holy Quran during the day.

More than any other time, the month of Ramadan can be challenging for the expat population.

Expats, take note

Ramadan for expats in Qatar

If you are planning to relocate to Qatar during the month of Ramadan, quash it. Government agencies and authorities are largely preoccupied with celebrations and are generally slow-moving in performing their duties. Offices close early and those at work are unusually not focused. Shops shut down before time and streets are generally deserted during daytime. These can be nerve-racking and you will find yourself with little direction and help that is normally available. It is better to relocate well before or after Ramadan.

You must accept invitations for an Iftar from observing locals. Bring dates and gifts. It strengthens the bond and sends a respectful message. Introduce yourself to your neighbours and visit Qatari families and friends and embrace the community spirit. Hug more and more to build affinity.

Even if you are a non-Muslim, it is impolite to eat, drink or smoke in public during the hours of daylight. If you can, try and participate in charitable activities and volunteer services.

You might want to leave Qatar for sometime during this time not just because of the punishing heat, but also because you don’t feel obliged to observe the rituals and be a part of it. Don’t. This is your chance to show that you appreciate their culture and are keen to celebrate with them. It’s a sign of friendliness.

Dress appropriately and do not play loud music. It’s considered intrusive and disturbing to those who are fasting. Be modest and patient.

You will do well to steer clear of debates, arguments and fights since Ramadan is a time of peace and tranquility. Remember, you are not a natural in Qatar. You are seeking acceptance, and it comes only if you adhere to ground rules and show that you care. Play by the culture. Don’t go on kissing or cuddling your partner of the opposite sex in public. It’s especially offensive during the Holy month.

Try fasting yourself. It has health benefits, cleanses the soul, helps you understand your body better and helps you with self-control. Of course, in a way, it also makes you one of their own.

 

Over the past two months, tensions between Qatar and the UAE have reignited with claims and counter-claims relating to intrusion of warplanes to missing Qatar from the map at the new Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. US administration realises that the rift can lead to a major setback to US policy in the region. The first strategic US-Qatar dialogue that kick-started yesterday indicates a subtle hope to ease tensions in the gulf.

In the inaugural session of US-Qatar strategic dialogue US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson welcomed Qatar stating that “Qatar is a strong partner and a longtime friend of the United States. We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship and hope the talks today deepen our strategic ties”

The session focused on important areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, security, counterterrorism, energy, and aviation between Qatar and US. Apart from focusing on Civil Aviation the session focussed on memorandum of understanding that creates a framework for the United States to provide technical assistance and training to the Qatari Government on combatting human trafficking. The MoU will also lead to creation of a bilateral government working group to discuss labour practices in Qatar.

Tillerson also appreciated Qatar on making a considerable progress to improve efforts to combat terrorism. He further stated that “As the Gulf dispute nears the eight-month mark, the United States remains as concerned today as we were at its outset. This dispute has had direct negative consequences economically and militarily for those involved, as well as the United States.”

He further stressed that all parties must “minimize rhetoric, exercise restraint to avoid further escalation, and work toward a resolution. A united GCC bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on counterterror – countering terrorism, defeating ISIS, and countering the spread of Iran’s malign influence.”

Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani expressed his gratitude to US for hosting the delegation .He thanked US for taking a just position on the blockade and agreed that that the” blockade disrupts the joint efforts in providing stabilities for the – stability for the region.” He stated that in addition to security, both countries are committed to improve labour standards and will join forces to stop all forms of human trafficking.

Secretary Mattis appreciated Qatar’s effort in maintaining excellent military-to-military relations, hosting Al Udeid Air Base, home to our Combined Air Operations Center, the United States Air Force Central Command Forward Headquarters. Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah expressed that Qatar is committed to take the cooperative military initiatives for welfare of community living in Al Udeid.

The inaugural session of the strategic dialogue has been fruitful in strengthening cooperation in fields of politics, military and economic development. However the overall significance of the dialogue on the blockade and US-Qatar partnership is still awaited.

As per the 28th Human Rights Watch Report that reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries, this is the right time for Middle East and North African countries to act on the popular demands that have become voice of the youth in the region.

As people today are more aware and exposed to various government systems and mechanisms they expect relative changes for betterment of quality of life, on the humanitarian grounds. They understand their rights well and now are not patient to compromise their rights further. Hence it is important to make necessary changes in the existing regime structures by ensuring that citizens get their due respect, liberty and dignity essential to do it’s over all development overcoming the traditional biases.

The major five reforms that are immediate implementation in the existing MENA regimes include Rights of Women, who are generally have to suffer the most of injustice given the laws that curtail their freedom to make decisions of their life, ranging from dress code to choosing a life partner to moving friendly. They need to experience the equality that women around the world experience. Moreover they must not be treated as a dependent but a strength that have the ability to contribute to country.

MENA women made some advances on nationality issues in 2017. Tunisia repealed a decree that prevented Muslim women – but not men – from registering marriages with non-Muslims; it also passed a landmark law on violence against women, instituting measures to prevent violence, protect survivors, and punish their abusers. In response to Qatari women’s demands to pass nationality onto their children like Qatari men, Qatar pledged to grant residency to children of Qatari women, providing most but not all rights that non-citizen children have.

Notably, Qatar for the first time allowed women in its ‘Shura’ Council which was another change towards providing equal status to women and Saudi has also taken few steps in this direction but there is still a dire need to dismantle the entire system. Governments of the MENA region must take ownership to abolish systemic discrimination in opportunities, divorce, child custody, and inheritance against women giving them equal status and dignity they deserve.

MENA governments nevertheless devoted extensive resources to prosecuting people for their adult, consensual bedroom activities. Young people in the Middle East are well aware that their governments enforce morality but that will no more prove to be successful in covering inefficiency of governments. They need to understand that they cannot impose moral principles and must allow the due liberty to the residents.

MENA government officials jailed people for alleged insults to them or to loosely defined notions of the country’s “reputation,” “national interest,” “culture,” or “religion.” Saudi Arabia went so far as to define “insulting the king,” crown prince, or head of state as a terrorist offense for which the punishment is five to 10 years imprisonment. Bahrain jailed human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab for an “insulting” tweet. Kuwait sentenced a writer to seven years in prison for insulting the state of Qatar. Blocking Doha News in Qatar was another breach of freedom of expression. MENA governments should abolish any law that even uses the word “insult” in its definition of a crime. Limiting freedom of speech is like hampering chances of a country to develop further. The governments need to understand that criticism are required to be accepted and reforms needs to be undertaken for progress.

MENA governments have treated their countries – and sometimes the countries of others – as massive jails, arbitrarily denying people the right to leave or the right to enter. Saudi Arabia has imposed arbitrary travel bans on many Saudis, and detained visiting foreign government officials like Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, while Israel has refused to allow Gazans to exit even for urgent medical treatment or education abroad. Bahrain stripped hundreds of its nationals of their citizenship to punish families of activists. Israel refused entry to people – including Jews – whose political views it doesn’t like, and blocked human rights workers and journalists from accessing Gaza. Governments needs to stop treating their citizens like property to be held on to or disposed at their will and need to act like custodians not bosses.

It is important that these changes are not ignored further as they are already under the vigilance of international organisation demeaning their role in the country and international community. Making these reforms is bound to push progress of the countries and respect in the world.