Doha News speaks to non-Qatari nationals who are born and raised in Qatar on their concept of ‘home’ in the Gulf nation.
The diaspora community in Qatar is a deeply rooted feature of the country, considering it is an integral part of its society and economy.
Many view the Gulf country as a geography beyond mere birth certificate specification. To some, Qatar is considered a tailored home.
The Gulf state’s population currently stands at 2,975,435, based on projections of the latest United Nations statistics.
Qatar (Arab) nationals form less than 15% of the country’s total population, followed by other Arab (13%), Indian (24%), Nepali (16%), Filipino (11%) and Bangladesh and Sri Lankan nationals (5% respectively).
Described as ‘a state built by immigrants’, Qatar sees the rich pool of cultures and nationalities contributing immensely to the country’s economy and society.
According to recent statistics in 2019, there were approximately two million economically active foreigners and 110 thousand economically active citizens in Qatar.
While Qataris play an integral role in the development of the country, immigrants and expats also play a crucial role in the building and rebuilding of the country.
Expats are seen as being part of the fabric of Qatari society through partaking in the country’s sports, food, culture and art.
Track and field athlete and Olympic Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim represented the face of the Gulf country in international tournaments as he proudly secured several gold medals for Qatar. Barshim is of Sudanese origins.
“It’s the only place I know,” Ibtihal Ahmed, a Somali national born and raised in Qatar told Doha News while describing what she felt about her upbringing in the Gulf country.
Having never visited her motherland, Ibtihal seeks comfort in the country that has hosted her since birth, saying: “I feel the safest here and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.”
Third-culture people and their experiences in the society they are brought up in, are defined by the individuals themselves and is an inclusive one as they are often able to adapt quickly to new situations and navigate across multiple cultures.
“I don’t identify as a Qatari because I speak Somali and I’m very much familiar with my Somali culture but I have made a home out of this place [Qatar] and it’s the place that gave me a roof above my head and welcomed by parents back in the early 50s.”
Ibtihal went through an internal struggle whilst growing up, in her exposure to two different identities. “I think what made my experience a bit more confusing was also because i attended an Indian school growing up.”
A blend of different cultures was also infused in Ibtihal’s life, who views Somalia as her identity and Qatar as her home.
“I share the happiness with the Qatari people when the country is celebrating its national day because I see myself as part of its society and I know many like me have had parents or grandparent contribute so much to shaping this country,” the 27-year-old told Doha News
“I was born and raised here, I lived on its land, I studied in its schools. My whole family is living here. So I can’t imagine myself living outside of Qatar,” Maha Al Shaheen tells Doha News.
Maha was born and raised in the Gulf state and is a holder of a Qatari travel document. The document is an identity paper issued by a government or international entity pursuant to international agreements, enabling individuals to clear border control measures.
“When people ask where I’m from I tell them I’m originally from Iran,” however Maha identifies as a Qatari citizen having been raised all her life in the Gulf nation and us very much in sync with Qatari culture.
A case of identity assimilation is observed in this case as the country of origin is a mere feature and treated as official documentation as opposed to a point of resonance.
Having never been to Iran, Maha proudly indulges in her Qatari culture and stands in solidarity with the Gulf state through political rifts.
Patriotism in Maha’s case, is illustrated in not being rooted in words on paper, but rather a feeling she resonates with, granted the country provides her with comfort and a home.
“It’s my motherland and a place I forever belong to.”
“I identify as an Omani with a Qatari mother but when someone assumes I’m Qatari I don’t correct them,” Maryam Al Harthy said, describing her identity.
Maryam moved to Qatar when she was one years old.
“When I feel homesick, I feel homesick for Qatar. Everything I’ve ever known is in Qatar. My family, my loved ones, my house are all in Doha so it’s hard to think of another place as home when everything I loved belongs here,” the 24-year-old tells Doha News.
Maryam is a Omani national as children with a Qatari mother and a non-Qatari father are not granted citizenship in Qatar.
Although legally treated differently from official citizens, Maryam acknowledges her roots in Oman but has made a home out of Qatar, a place where she was raised in and is most familiar with.
“I don’t see myself living in my original country because I feel like a stranger there. Like a tourist.”