When you consider that Qatar have a native population of only c. 250,000 people it’s easy to fall into a state of awe at just how successful a little nation, Qatar really is. Possibly the richest country in the world, home to over a hundred different nationalities, none of whom will even gain citizenship, unless they marry a Qatari, convert to Islam, wear the abaya, make dinner for his mother, sisters, grandmothers and aunts every Friday and hand over the holy communion money they got when they were seven, until basically, you are owed by him; It happens this way, a Qatari man can marry an ‘outside’ woman. The reverse isn’t going to happen, where a Qatari woman marries an Irish man, face it, who’d pass up on well-sandaled cosseted Qatari who gets more cheques from his state just for being Qatari than Enda will ever get from being an engineer with the County Council.
Residents of Qatar will not be receiving citizenship any time soon, nor will people, (e.g. my two children) be treated as citizens because they were born in Qatar, doesn’t work like that here, Qatar takes what it can from everyone, pays them finely in cash but when your duty is done, you’ll be sent packing. Every expat is treated the same, ultimately. In the interim, each culture is treated very differently, Egypt and Jordan, one way, India and Bangladesh, another, Nigeria and Kenya, differently again and Philipines and Sri Lanka the same. Pale and male is king in Qatar, the whiter and maler the better. It’s the reason thousands of western expats flock to Qatar working in oil, gas, construction, medical and teaching jobs. You can live in the country while you have a service to give but once that service is up, you’ll be waved goodbye. This is secret of Qatar’s success, they carry no dead weight!
Instead they stand tall on the shoulders of giants, seeking out the best professionals from around the world to design and manage mega projects, and throngs of bodies from the not so white countries, to build them. And by and large, the system works. People earn a decent salary, but they know they’ll never draw a pension in Qatar, so the term ‘make hay’, is spoken widely. Luckily the sun always shines in Qatar and while its being built, the path is being laid for the upcoming young Qataris, who are being born into an empire that has global appeal and material wealth, not like the Qatar their fathers were raised in, an undeveloped desert with a wealth that didn’t make itself evident in every-day life.
So if this new breed of super-Qatari is coming soon onto the market, into an open market where money is power and power corrupts, just who is being given the task to raise them? Filipinos, that’s who. Working for three hundred and fifty euros a month and all the hours of the day, Filipino maids are raising Qatari children, sometimes almost singlehandedly. If the first thousand days of a child’s life is the most important and most formative, well these Qatari’s will most certainly grow up with a nod to the Philipines perhaps with a love for singing Robbie Williams, Angels in Karaoke Bars. And if so will it break or will it be the making of the empire their fathers built?
All that responsibility resting on the shoulders of young Filipino girls who have left their country will little or no education, perhaps already a mother, perhaps fleeing a failed marriage, the onus to provide for their aging parents and the will to send their children to school to give them a better future. All resulting in her having to pack her bag and make for Qatar to earn some money to send home and work as a maid for the superrich, super-spoiled, super-Qatari of tomorrow. A lot to manage at 23.
Either way, the future of Qatar is resting on the shoulder of others, perhaps not altogether on the architects, surgeons and educators we initially thought, perhaps the real giants are 4’10’, seven stone, doe eyed giants from the Philipines, who have the toughest job of all, raising Qatar.