Over the past few weeks the talk of town was the heated debate taking place in local internet forums about the long awaited Parliament election
This all started with the recent Emiri Decree to extend the current Advisory council for three more years.
Miriam Al Saad wrote in her editorial this morning in Alraya newspaper, no point of elected parliament without a popular base that is produced by civic organizations
She stated , those who took the news of the latest Emiri decree with a shock has their own personal ambitions. Some are Businessmen looking to create an economical base to run their projects, those who likes to be in the spotlight, or those who thinks that the existence of an elected parliament means implementing citizens rules in spite of the government policies like demanding higher salaries than expatriates, more privileges, pay their debts, discontinue the current education reforms and independent schooling , abolish co-ed in educational institutes & government offices and the prohibition of selling Alcohol at Hotels & Qatar Airways!!!
She continued Addressing internet forums writers , Let us first learn to organize ourselves And create a civil society that speaks for all of us. Gentlemen, if you are serious about establishing a Civil society abandon first your personal desires At the expense of the homeland. and reveal yourselves and write in your real names instead of hiding behind your key boards
** My opinion: While the article may sound authoritarian & pro government, the Writer have stated important facts.
The only clear agendas by the opponents are either Islamic or tribal. No clear demands for reforms, better utilization of country’s wealth or progress in education , Technology or human rights
Is it too near to go for an elected Parliament in Qatar?
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Thanks for the insight genesis, Kuwait definitely does have a higher proportion of intellectuals coming from out of there compared to other GCC countries.
It's not fair to evaluate the Kuwaitis long experience with democracy( when compared to other gulf states) over the endless debates that been going on the past few years. As you're much aware that among other gulf countries Kuwait have gave the Arab world many renowned figures and political activists. not to mention that they're more intellectual than others
When I wrote isolated, I meant metaphorically as Kuwaitis got caught on their own political parties issues and lost it's figure in a global scale. Kuwaitis now are divided between salafi, shi'as, & liberal candidates. And yet many of the votes are still tribal based.
I think they need to regain the people trust. Although I think many ordinary Kuwaitis are fed up now with the ummah council, Specially with recent load shedding and interruption of supply in wide areas of Kuwait the past few days . And the Kuwaiti government hinting that the reason for shortage of electricity is because of the parliament constant interference in infrastructure projects expenditure
Genesis what is your opinion of the Kuwaiti democracy? Do you consider it an effective democracy or just a farce?
I know that during the late 80s the Saudis made the Kuwaitis shut down their parliament, and also immediately after the gulf war how a group of kuwaitis who wanted a 'real' democracy now that Iraq was out and Sabah just got back were also thrown in jail, but I don't know much about the whole isolation of the different groups, can you elaborate on it? And what was the reason for this isolation, like what were they trying to achieve?
thank you for an insightful post.
I don't think we can be compared to Kuwait. Kuwaitis have this rich historical background with democracy since the early 1960's. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 have played a role in their constitution and made Kuwaitis self centralized and isolated by ideology , tribe & sect
However, i do agree with you. so far there is Intellectual immobility in Qatar. As Mariam Al Saad written in her article , people think that parliament election will bring them higher salaries than expatriates, more privileges, pay their debts or discontinue the current education reforms
Only time can tell how things will turn. Whether people mindset will change in the next three years or will remain the same
This is true genesis, however I fear a 'democratic' Qatar is just going to be like Kuwait, basically elected groups that are meant to be the lions of democracy but in practice they have no teeth to bite. Kuwaitis always pride themselves for having a parliament but the reality is the corruption there is even more rampant than in Qatar!
while i do agree with many intellects who thinks that Qataris are not ready for a parliament election, i long for the day that the constitution as been granted by HH the emir in 2004 is applied and a parliament election takes place three years from now.
Only with an elected parliament will issues like Expenditure of public funds,corruption & abuse of power be tackled.
I honestly don't want Qatar to be a democracy any time soon because it would be a major disaster in my honest opinion. This is because the people are not ready for democracy, one of the keys to Qatar succeeding as a democracy is if they separate religion from the state for starters, something that is very unlikely to happen any time soon.
People don't want to openly discuss such a subject because of the credibility implications that will arise to the people making such a proposition, but the fact remains that there is no single uniform way of interpreting religious doctrine and implementing it equally, and this leads to the sort of tensions that exist in most islamic nations where people are vying for power to put in place what they believe to be 'true' islam. At the end of the day a man's spirituality is a subjective matter that has no place in the creation of objective policies and laws.
Some would argue that Malaysia is an islamic democracy, but if their model was to be emulated in most traditional conservative Arab countries there still will be calls for banning of a whole lot of activities there, activities that are legally sanctioned and give it the effect to operate like most secular democracies.
She added: “That can explain why the locals are not pushing their government to take step towards elections and no one can blame them for that.”!!!
---well, that explains why two articles by Qatari writers about the parliament election were banned from appearing in the local newspapers And that includes an article by Qatari Writer "Lahdan Al Mhannadi" that was supposed to be published today in replay to Mariam Al Saad's Editorial
Expert hails progress in education sector.
A visiting expert on GCC Political Studies believes that Qatar “does not need, as a priority, an elected parliament,” and that the focus should be rather on how to maintain the welfare services that the State provides to its citizens.
Professor Hiba Khodr, of the American University of Beirut, is on a trip of Qatar and Kuwait to study the political and social lives as well as the interaction between the government and civil societies in these countries, under the supervision of Brookings Institute, Doha.
She said that the results of her study would be available for the public.
Talking to reporters, she said she believed the planned Qatari parliament was a “nice step for Qatar’s image to the outside world as a safeguard for human rights and public life but everyone knows that the citizens here can live comfortably without an elected parliament.”
She added: “That can explain why the locals are not pushing their government to take step towards elections and no one can blame them for that.”
She felt that the proposed parliament would “mainly discuss municipal issues and there is already an elected Central Municipal Council.”
The Lebanese academic believed that the voice of expatriates, who constitute some 80% of the total population, should “somehow” reach the elected parliament but failed to suggest a means to accomplish it.
The visiting expert praised the remarkable progress that Qatar has made in the fields of education and health.
She said that the democratisation process in the region was initiated by the Americans. “However, it is clear that you cannot copy a democratic model and paste it for use by another people.”
“Democracy in Qatar,” she said, “should take into consideration preserving the nation’s social values, traditions and culture. Otherwise, the identity of the nation would vanish.”
i somehow agree
i never seen this coming, but this feeling of resentment among locals may turn some of the less educated younger generation into xenophobic
Westernisation, yes, thats the word I should have used...
parliament-monarchy...as long as the king cares for his people...
Coeducation can pull the rug from under "them" by educating a larger percentage of the society. Qatar has a great leadership which realises the importance of education. In most of the Arab world, you will find more money being pumped elsewhere rather than in education,also you will find large percentage of teachers are the people who couldn't score in high schools, so they became teachers.
One point which I'd like to comment on regarding the article is the pay scale of foreigners, I think locals should have the priority in hiring as long as they are qualified for the job. Honestly everyday I hear the same song (foreigners are getting overpaid), my biggest fear is this song may turn the locals into xenophobic.
Good luck Qatar, I wish you all the best.
Not many sees it as modernization. In their own terms, it's called westernization.
I never get it about the gender mixing issue, since many of my family members studied & worked in co-Ed environment .
I'm not opposing the existence of such rightist ideology , but it really surprises me that the only effective activists among qataris are the "islamists" and the "conservatives". Other voices are deemed as pro government
The "individuals" you talk about don't want Qatar to become more "modernised" (sorry couldn't find a better word) because then they will lose the monopoly of business?
I tried to read and understand your initial post, but I was getting confused with the context of the English...
So they don't want co-education or co-ed Govt offices because this takes away from the traditional constraints of Qatar?
I don't take an interest in politics of any country, not even my own, but I am just curious how they see this affecting there "stand" in society.
Apologies if I got the cat by the tail;-P
i never implied that my only intention of posting this here is just to know what do expatriates thinks! Rather than share a good article by a renowned Qatari writer
I also do think that expatriates do play a key role in the country's development process.
And since most of you come from countries with a rich background in democracy & elections, It would be interesting to read your viewpoint on the topic :)
i would somehow agree with you that "some" are in fact self-centered :)
In April 29, 2003 was a referendum on the permanent constitution of the State of Qatar and this was approved by the vast majority of Qataris.
Qatar permanent Constitution was issued on June 8, 2004 with a time period given for the establishment of civic societies & constitutional institutions.
The Constitution does not allow the establishment of political parties or unions
From all what is written it appears that none of the opponents or the individuals who strive for applying the parliament election sooner cares for civic societies , political parties or unions Nor do they care for the progress of this country
Who are those individuals?
It's those who sees co-ed at Education facilities and government offices as corruption
Those who oppose the education reforms at government schools and consider it an attempt to westernize the curriculum
Those who oppose the review of the current sponsorship law and criticize the work of the national human rights committee
Those who are anti-globalization and anti-Multiculturalism
you made a valid point.
let's just imagine that residents (expatriates) were made to pay taxes, I'm sure that would qualify them to have a voice in the upcoming Parliament
Again , i don't see that happening in the gulf. because of many security , social & tribal aspects.
In the first place, What Qatar want to achieve in the long run is to become a constitutional monarchy not an electoral democracy or a republic
Certain review of citizenship is a must in the long run i guess for that to succeed. specially since locals are outnumbered by expatriates in a huge scale
My Arabic isn't up to this article - any translations?
I will never get a chance to vote here so I am not bothered actually whether they have a parliament or not. The article is an interesting read though.
Looks like People don’t want to comment on controversial topics..
slowly and steady win the race.
Yes she is stating some interesting facts....like everywhere corruption will be more...
I dont think there will be an elected parliament in the near future!
Very interesting article.