"We are all Laila" is exploring the rights of women in Egyptian (and broader Arab) society. Women (and men) share there experiences and use it as an outlet to try to understand contempary issues.
They are running a survey and would love all of you to partipcate. There is a seperate one for males and females:
Ok so the Al Jazeera English story is getting stranger by the second...
According to the Guardian story that "Steve Clark… resigned at the end of last week… saying his resignation had been a difficult decision." What bollocks… the fact is that Mr. Clark was at the end of his contract and the staff, (and I'm sure the administration), were fed up of his lack of engagement with his work. To most of us at the channel Mr. Clark's departure was a relief… as in big relief. His personal appointment of his then mistress, and now wife, Jo Bergin was big gossip at the channel and of course continues to be big gossip with her eventual dismissal and current lawsuit. No-one is making mention of the fact that she's lost the first part of her lawsuit for unfair dismissal and I doubt she'll get anywhere with the second part which is citing "race, religion, and gender discrimination". Hard to fathom when over half the staff of AJE are women who are Christian (like me), Jewish, white, black, Muslim, Buddhist, and on and on. The fact was that she was useless at her job and deserved to be let go. And ditto for her husband.
Not hard to see why Mr. Clark left… hard to be the Director of News when you are the news.
How is this for some journalism school humour. The Peninsula thinks that "Southwestern University" is coming to teach reputable journalism in Qatar. From their 2007 – A year of achievements for Qatar article:
The Qatar Foundation ... announced its latest entrant to the Education City-the US-based Southwestern University which will offer its reputable journalism and communication programmes beginning this year.
I hope someone at Northwestern University takes note of this - maybe they can offer the journalists and editors who worked on the article some geography lessons when they open in Education City to teach journalism ;)
By now all of you have probably heard about the Americans accidently dropping a patriot missile on a farm in our dear Qatar. How the most sophisticated army in the world can "accidently" drop a missile is beyond me...Perhaps it was heading somewhere else and failed?
The one thing that no one has raised yet is that apparently Bush and Blair had previously discussed bombing Qatar previously - specifically the AlJazeera Headquarters in Doha.
Cue the X-Files theme song...
Seriously though, does this not worry you? If it accidently went off the other way it may have landed smack bang in the middle of the Corniche...
While the Mitera Kunja Safe House for Nepali Workers is being shutdown, Al Jazeera is airing "Blood, Sweat and Tears" which is a documentary about labour rights in the Gulf countries.
(part two below)
Do any of you actually buy this? How on earth would any infrastructure get built if it wasn't for expatriate labour. How can you be dependent on foreign labour while they cost you more than they are worth. If that was so, Qatar wouldn't make a profit! This one is beyond me...
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha - Expatriate labourers are actually proving more of a burden to the country than providing any benefits, according to a study on urban development and internal migration carried out by the Population Research Permanent Committee.
The study found that the cost of bringing in and maintaining labourers here is more than the inputs they are providing the state.
Calculations revealed that the government ends up paying QR3,500 per month per person coming into the country in the low-income category.
AlJazeera aired this documentary (in Arabic) on workers rights in the Gulf. It is good to see the regional media starting to cover the issues I have been speaking about for us long. Especially since (according to the documentary) there are 17 million foreign workers in the Gulf. Most are from Asia and Egypt.
Let's hope that this is another brick in the wall of the modern day slavery that exists all over the Gulf...
Either the journalist misunderstood what was going on, or else this has to be the worst reason to start a TV station (ever):
Qatar plans to set up an educational TV station in a bid to limit illegal private tutoring, the Peninsula reported. The project could be launched within the next three years, according to Education Minister Nouriya Al Sabeeh. The station would also keep parents up to date with their children's education, Al Sabeeh said.
I stumbled across this interesting post from a Vietnamese staff in the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry named Pham Hoang Long. He recently visited Qatar with the Foreign Minister of Vietnam to attend a conference...Here are some of his observations :
Well, you may know that Doha is so popular for international conference. However, they was not professional at all in organization. They assigned a Liaison Officer, who could not speak any languages except for Arabic to our delegation. However, there was another Liaison Officer, maybe for Thai delegation, who turned out to love Vietnam so much. He helped me a lot and really wanted to go to Vietnam. And when the Summit finished, I knew why Doha is so popular, simply because they are so rich . They covered all accomodation, meal, even laundry. And normally for international conferences, shuttle bus is already good enough, but Doha provided shuttle cars; all were brand new and most were BMW. Whenever I needed to go somewhere, just went to the transportation desk, and a couple of minutes later, a luxurious limousine was ready for me.
The weather was so hot, but dry enough. But only foreigners were working outdoor. I even felt that Qatar citizen didn’t work, they just took out the oil, sold it and used money to hire foreigners.
Somehow I don't think this is too inaccurate for someone who visited for just a weekend!
I just stumbled across an interesting report from the RAND Corporation titled "Education for a New Era : Design and Implementation of K–12 Education Reform in Qatar". Lots of people on this site have often complained about the long waiting lists to get their kids into school in Qatar. This report, commissioned by the Qatar Foundation takes a step back and looks at the big picture around Education in Qatar. It is an interesting read if you are interested in educational reform in the Middle East, the socio-economic development of Qatar or a teacher based in Qatar.
It was good news when I blogged that the Qatari Prime Minister had spoken out against the exit permit system. Today, the human rights group Amnesty International called upon Qatar to act upon the Prime Ministers statement that
“the sponsorship law and exit permit system are internationally unacceptable and close to slavery.”
Irene Khan, the Secretary-General of Amnesty told the Gulf Times :
“I would hope this statement leads towards liberalising the regime and ensuring that non-nationals have access to rights...
There have been many complaints of ill treatment and we feel it is not just the issue of restrictions on coming in or changing jobs, but also of migrant workers not having access to justice, or being subject to unfair trials and detention...
...Women, who are in the domestic sector, for example, are subjected to violence and sexual abuse...
We see some signs of change coming and we hope these would spread more widely and also incorporate Qatar"
Khan went on to tell the paper that it was only in the interest of the Gulf countries to treat the migrant labour well as they were heavily dependent on them.
Jane Austin could have easily been living through the Qatar summer when she wrote
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
I can't begin to explain the heat here! I have no idea how people survived in this country before Samsung and LG start selling airconditioners en mass.
Let me try to give you an idea of this heat if you're lucky enough not to be in Doha right now:
- It's 11pm and I've just taken a shower. The sun has been down for about 5 hours now. When I turn on the cold water tap the water that comes out is uncomfortably hot. That's right - this is not water coming out of the water heater - this is water from the cold water tap. It's so hot from the sun that boiled the tanker that it stays in during the day (5 hours ago!)
According to reports in local media, Qatar is reconsidering it's exit permit system. This is good news since the current system is painful and requires expatriates to obtain permission to leave Qatar.
The Prime Minister went as far as saying that the current system had been likened to "slavery".
According to the report,
Qatar yesterday hinted at some changes being introduced to the exit permit system soon. “It is difficult to retain the exit permit system in its existing form,” the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani told Qatari businessmen.
“The system (exit permit) is being criticised. It is being likened to slavery,” the Premier said point-blank. He was addressing a meeting of Qatari businessmen convened by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce at the Doha Sheraton. The objective of the meet was to discuss the woes of the private sector and ways to resolve them.
His remarks came in response to a question raised by a member of the audience who said the private sector would like the sponsorship and the exit permit system to be retained. And in case there are some modifications being made to the system, there needed to be some alternative mechanism in place to protect the rights of Qatari employers, the questioner said.
“It can’t remain like this,” the Premier said of the exit permit system. Present was the Minister of State for Interior Affairs H E Sheikh Nasser bin Abdullah Al Thani. He said his Ministry had, though, recommended that the sponsorship and exit permit system be retained
This is a really positive step in the economic and social development of Qatar.
This is a very impressive report on Sheikha Mozah's speech in the US where she discusses the problems facing the Middle East. I love this line: "I believe idealism is exactly the antidote we need to the cynicism of our times.” :
Article by Peter Prengaman (AP) via Sign on San Diego
LOS ANGELES – In a rare appearance of a female Middle Eastern leader, Qatar's first lady argued Islam has been incorrectly blamed for the rise of extremist violence when the real culprits include poverty, a lack of political freedom and “failed U.S. policies.”
Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned told the Los Angeles World Affairs Council Tuesday that societies worldwide were failing to provide jobs, hope and a feeling of greater good for their citizens.
As a result, youth “are seduced by a global culture of violence that is fueled by cynicism,” said Sheikha Mozah, dressed in pants, a business blazer and with her hair covered.
This weekend the recently appointed Prime Minister (and Foreign Minister) of Qatar told a local Qatari TV station that he would throw a party when AlJazeera was shutdown. He said:
“As a foreign minister, Al Jazeera causes me a daily headache. I would give a party on the day when it is shut down,” he said in a lighter vein, while noting that an official had offered to pay $5bn for the closure of the channel several years ago.
While this was said in jest, every serious journalist knows that Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers choose their words very carefully and don't just "joke" about stifling the press (let alone shutting down a national institution). Many see this as a veiled threat against AlJazeera - rumour has it that the PM/FM has always been antagonistic torwards the Channel (which is ultimately under the patronage of the Emir of Qatar).
The closing down (or even reining in) of AlJazeera would be a travesty for freedom of the press, free speech and democratic values of the region. It would also be the biggest PR mistake that Qatar could make. It is currently known as progressive and principled. God knows what the world would think if it stifled one of the most important globak journalistic institutions over a couple of barrels of oils and a few unhappy diplomats.
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