“… That president, former Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi, did not attend the rites for Suleiman, whose agents once arrested Morsi for his work on behalf of the Brotherhood.But Morsi’s office was represented by its top administrative official, the grand chamberlain, and several senior military figures attended, including Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and Lt. Gen. Sami Anan, the chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces…”
Jenifer Fenton sent in this dispatch from Doha, looking at the results of a recent survey and asking wider questions about the future of migration and expat communities in the Gulf.
Qataris have little trust in Western expatriates, was the headline many in Qatar took away from newly published research.
On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 representing no trust and 10 complete trust, Qataris gave Western expatriates a 3.6, the lowest trust rating of any group excluding migrant laborers. Qataris trust other nationals (rating of 8); and Arab expatriates to a lesser degree (6.1), according to the report From Fareej To Metropolis.
“What Qataris have expressed is not different from what other people have expressed in other countries… We tend to trust and like people who are like us regardless of who we are,” said Darwish Al Emadi, Director of the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) at Qatar University which published the report. “British trust British people more than they trust non-British.”
However, white-collar respondents displayed high trust in Qataris (7.4). Migrant workers did as well.
Al Emadi’s research also found that “The more you interact with people, the more you trust them.”
But in Qatar there is the limited interaction between the country’s population groups, which includes nationals, white-collar workers mainly from the Arab and Western worlds, and laborers from South and Southeast Asia. The three groups live in parallel worlds divided by invisible barriers.
“Although we all live in the same community we are living in ghettos, social ghettos,” Al Emadi said. “The interaction between Qataris and all types of expats, even the Arab expats, is really just related to the work place. We hardly ever interact at the house level.”
The lack of interactions between nationals and white-collar workers seems more acute in Doha than in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates because the segregation of housing is perhaps more pronounced. Neighborhoods in Qatar “largely define and structure social interaction,” according to the report.
The wealthier tier of expatriates lives in employer-provided or employer-supported housing likely to be villas and apartments. “Qataris tend to live in neighborhoods with detached high-fenced housing in predominately Qatari neighborhoods where extended family members tend to live.” This is their desire. About 97 percent of Qataris preferred having other Qataris as neighbors; less than one percent indicated a preference for low-paid migrant workers in their neighborhoods. Laborers live in migrant camps mainly located outside of the city center. Late last year Qatar banned labor accommodations in residential areas.
UAE Zayed University anthropologist Jane Bristol-Rhys agreed that Qatar’s neighborhoods are more segregated than many in the Emirates, but she objected to assumptions that these invisible boundaries are put there purposefully in either country.
“These places are melting pots. There are over 200 nationalities in the Emirates in addition to Emiratis. Are people going to tend to socialize in groups where they work? Yes. But Interaction is not necessarily limited to nationality groups,” according to Bristol-Rhys, who has spent almost a decade interviewing foreign workers and Emiratis about the issue.
Limited Social Arenas
There are limited, although growing, areas for social interaction outside of work. Majlis, a social meeting usually sex-segregated, is the main leisure activity of Qataris, according to the SESRI report. Unsurprisingly expatriates do not report majlis in the list of preferred social activities. Rather they are involved in schools, charities, clubs and sports.
The segregation between the sexes restricts inter-mingling. During a meal at a Qataris home, the men and women would normally dine separately. This is “something you are not used to and probably something that you don’t want to do,” said Al Emadi. “We don’t want to do it your way either. At the end of the day both parties don’t like to give in on what they think is the right way of interaction. So they end up having their own separate things.”
Qatari women are also restricted in their relationships with men. It would “not be comfortable, not be acceptable,” to “hang-out” with men outside of a work or a school environment, said Muna Mohammed, a young professional Qatari woman. Her two friends agreed. The three said, however, that they have more foreign friends and acquaintances than their parents or older generations do.
Social interaction between low-paid migrant workers and other groups are near non-existent. On meager salaries, they cannot afford leisure coffees, movies or even taxi rides into town. Even if they could muster-up the money, most work very long hours with few days off a month. Bachelors are also banned from Qatar’s malls on certain days because of “family-only days” policies.
However Bristol-Rhys said it is not clear that a great number of these migrant workers, who often come from small villages, even want to socialize with other groups.
Qataris and migrant workers, who are from different countries but whose circumstances are relatively similar, are fairly homogenous group; while the third social group of “professional” workers contains many subgroups from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
Often there is limited interaction between these subgroups, between Arab and Western expatriates, according to Al Emadi. “We…tend to interact with people who are like us. Who speak our language, who behave like us, have more of our values and so on.”
Bristol-Rhys is not sure she agreed that we like people who are like us and said there are other contributing factors that may increase isolation. “Some people are not good cultural travelers. Even though they may have a job working here (UAE), it may not suit their personality to want to get to know another language or culture or even to interact.”
A Minority In Their Country
Because of rapid growth and development Qatar and the other Gulf countries have a large migrant population. Some 1.8 million people live in Qatar, but only a few hundred thousand are citizens. The country has the highest global ration of migrants to citizens, according to the World Bank. The UAE ranks third. All of the Gulf countries are in the [top 30] (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1199807908806/Top10.pdf).
Debates about “too many foreigners,” “price of modernizing” and “preservation of national culture” are of course nothing new. Khalid Al Ameri, an Emirati commentator, wrote:
You can only imagine how strange it must be for people who have a hard time integrating into their own society. It would be frustrating for anyone, in his or her home country, to see the presence of indigenous culture dwindle.
It is also true that Qatar and the UAE need foreign workers to develop their countries. There are simply not enough nationals to do it. “We don’t have the knowledge, we don’t have the numbers,” Qatar University’s Al Emadi said. It would be difficult to operate a single sector in the country without migrant workers. “If we wanted to run the hospital by ourselves, just Qataris, we probably could not do it. We don’t have enough nurses. We don’t have enough doctors.”
Lowly-paid migrant workers are not exclusive to the developing Gulf countries. “It seems like every country in the world has a population they don’t want to talk about that does the dirty work,” Bristol-Rhys said. There were successive waves of migrant groups to the United States who did the “crap” jobs no one else wanted to do – the Irish, the Jews and of course not forgetting enslaved blacks. “This is not uniquely a Gulf problem it just seems so just because of the sheer magnitude of it – because these (migrant) populations seriously outnumber the citizens.”
There is the argument that migrants to the U.S. and Europe can eventually become citizens of the nations in which they work, and this is something unlikely to happen in the Gulf anytime soon – if ever.
Path to citizenship?
If Qatar were to open up a greater path to citizenship, which is severely restricted and almost 100 percent hereditary, Qatari nationals feel they would become a minority with minority rights in their own country, Al Emadi said. Now Qataris are clearly the minority, but they are the ones with the greatest rights.
But migration to Gulf countries is done for different reasons than to the U.S. or Europe. “Are we beginning with the premise that all expatriates want to have Qatari or Emirati passport?,” Bristol-Rhys asked. Most people move to these countries to improve their lives at home, to put their children through schools, to buy a home or to fatten their pension funds. “Everyone who comes here knows this is not a place for immigration. This is not a place you would migrate to become a citizen.”
Have you noticed that Israeli propaganda work has become as sophisticated and as smart as Ba`thist propaganda?
Egypt’s president-elect, Mohammed Mursi, moves into his new office at the presidential palace and begins work on forming a government.
Go to Source
There is a plethora of “How the Revolution Failed” and “What We Did Wrong” and “The End of the Egyptian Revolution? think pieces out there today. There is also an original, thoughtful, and outside-the-box assessment from Mahmoud Salem, aka “Sandmonkey,” called “Chapter’s End.” He sees this as the end of Stage One of the Egyptian Revolution. He recognizes the failings of the revolutionaries and how the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood ended up as the last men standing in the Presidential election. He sees the road ahead in fairly pragmatic terms:
If you are a revolutionary, show us your capabilities. Start something. Join a party. Build an institution. Solve a real problem. Do something except running around from demonstration to marsh to sit-in. This is not street work: real street work means moving the street, not moving in the street. Real street work means that the street you live in knows you and trusts you, and will move with you , because you help them and care for them, not because you want to achieve some lofty notions you read about in a book without any real understanding on how to apply it on Egyptian soil. You have done nothing of the kind so far, and it’s the only way you will get ahead.
While I wouldn’t exactly call his post optimistic, it does seek to lookforward rather than merely bewail that all is lost, and he recognizes that much that was achieved remains:
While we are too busy to mourn our losses, we should also not forget our gains; This is what we won:
- Hosny Mubarak, his son and his VP are not ruling us.
- The NDP is broken into many different pieces
- The next President is chosen through fair, competitive and democratic elections, not matter what the outcome.
- Freedom of Expression, press and speech.
- The weakening of the MB, the salafis, the end of using religious speech for political gains (Notice how Morsy didn’t say a single Sharia thing in the past 2 weeks)
- Serious understanding to the nature of the state we live in and the roots of its problems, which we never really knew before.
- Interlinking between individuals all over the governorates that would’ve never taken place otherwise.
- Serious weakening of classism in a classist society
- Incredible amount of art, music and culture that was unleashed all over the country
- Entire generations in schools and universities that have become politicized, aware and active.
- A serious evaluation of our intelligentsia and why they suck.
- Discovering the difference between symbols and leaders, and our need for the latter than the former.
Read the whole thing. It’s thoughtful and doesn’t repeat the same laments.
UN observers in Syria suspend their activities because of the escalating violence, the head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Syria says.
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The disarray amongst the Syrian opposition is all-pervading. The factions are at political loggerheads, trading charges of treason and incompetence. Their preoccupation with meaningless media appearances persists, amid reports of embezzlement of “the revolution’s funds.” The foreign capitals and supposed “think-tanks” that have been striving to unify the Syrian opposition meanwhile voice growing exasperation at the elusiveness of their task.
The political and media leaders who speak in the name of the opposition continue to bank on, and work towards, foreign intervention to resolve the situation decisively.That leaves the opposition inside Syria on its own, though it too is divided. Some want a showdown come what may, as the regime cannot be changed peacefully. Others – not a majority – argue that it would be possible to arrive at an interim accommodating solution, in order to prevent Syria in its entirety from being engulfed in blood and fire.
The disarray is not confined to politics. It applies to the armed opposition factions as much as the political groupings. A significant proportion of the opposition inside Syria rejects militarization, though it decided some time ago not to condemn those who resort to taking up arms. Now these figures and groups complain that it is impossible to create a framework within which all armed groups would defer to the political authority of a single leadership – especially with the entry onto the scene of extremist groups, bringing with them a plethora of bloody experiences from Afghanistan and Pakistan, or North Africa and Iraq.Once collectively known as the “Arab Afghans,” these groups are now referred to as the “Arab fighters” in Syria. They function in accordance with their own hierarchical structure. They copy the modus operandi which was devised by the leadership of al-Qaeda, and then became public property available to anyone who (bids for or) wants it. This is based on providing men who want to sacrifice themselves for goals which they believe to be pleasing to the Almighty, while supplying them with their needs by various means that are readily available the world over, especially in our region.
The actions of these groups, and the sectarian massacres they have committed in several parts of Syria, have dismayed a large section of the opposition: those who have “gone back home,” or lost confidence in the direction taken by what began as a genuine struggle to improve the political, economic, human and social condition of the country.The opposition routinely blames all acts of violence on the regime. The regime and its agencies are not innocent. Its security forces and army commit crimes in the course of their suppression of its civilian or paramilitary opponents. Yet things have reached the point of prompting some opposition supporters to want a restoration of stability. That does not mean accepting restoration of the status quo ante. It means no longer allowing a justified popular uprising to be used to subject Syria to a process of wholesale destruction – one which also benefits powerful hardliners in the security and military elites.As the Assad regime’s Syrian, Arab and Western enemies prepare to usher in a new stage in the bloody confrontation, the Syrian authorities have been mulling over their own plans for a comprehensive military showdown. The aim this time will not just be to prevent the creation of armed opposition concentrations or enclaves, but to “destroy all armed groups, irrespective of their nature or identity.”
This is the prevalent notion in Syrian military and security circles, according to sources in contact with them. “The rationale and motivation for launching wholesale cleansing operations are increasing by the day,” they say. “To repeat with the UN observers the free-for-all that came with the Arab observers, would only open the door to further deterioration and bloodshed.”As seen from Damascus, the difference now is that “a hardline majority of the armed groups have come to be led by non-Syrians, and the foreign intelligence agencies that work with them act as though they’re willing to destroy everything in Syria – not just targeting the army and security forces, but all public civilian facilities on the pretext that they belong to the regime, and at the same time ratcheting up sectarian tensions through roving acts of criminality.”Sources familiar with Damascus’ thinking do not deny the involvement of pro-regime loyalists in sectarian crimes. But they believe that it is intent on “achieving blows of the kind that would change the look of the entire scene, military, political, and popular.”It would appear that the current focus of security activity is around Damascus, where a sweeping operation has been ordered aimed at curtailing rebel activity in the capital’s hinterland, all the way to the Lebanese border. This in turn reflects a top-level decision to take all necessary action, over an indeterminate period, to eliminate any “threat from the West.”Informed sources explain that what is being considered is “extensive and very harsh operations in the area of the Lebanese borders, against all sites used by the oppositionists, even if that means directing strikes at forces operating directly on the border, possibly including Lebanese groups that support them. ” The message is that so long as the Lebanese are incapable of preventing parts of their country from becoming havens for armed rebels, the Syrian authorities will act to neutralize those areas.
In addition to pursuing the goal of clearing Homs and its hinterland of armed opposition enclaves and cells, action is being taken against concentrations of opposition fighters elsewhere, especially bases and training sites near the Turkish, Iraqi and Jordanian borders. The Syrian army appears to have embarked on a campaign described as “extremely harsh.” aimed at “exterminating entire groups” of rebels.The Syrian leadership has been coordinating closely with the Russian leadership on such matters. According to informed sources, Moscow may even have intervened to block the execution of some military orders after they were issued. But this was in the context of its efforts to strengthen its diplomatic hand. Russia is not expected to stand in the way of the Syrian authorities as they embark on actions that could be of different order to what we have seen so far.
a Yemeni worker; photo by Amira Nasser
Severe working conditions with no way out
Amira Nasser, Yemen Times, May 17, 2012
Despite the revolution which exploded last year in Yemen with demands for human rights and opportunities, thousands of Yemenis still work in slave-like conditions with little hope of escape.
Surviving in Yemen’s harsh economy with limited choices has forced countless Yemenis to take work that affords them little social mobility, and leaves them drowning in debt.
Waheeb Abdul-Wahab, a 13-year-old, works in a mechanic shop with his 7-year-old brother, Majed, from 7a.m. to 4p.m. daily. They each make YR 1000 , less than 5 US dollars, for a long day of strenuous labor.
“My brother and I give some of the money to my mother and we keep about YR 600 for ourselves.”
Waheeb added that he alone makes roughly YR 8000 to 9000 in profits for the shop owner on a daily basis, but he keeps only YR 1000 for himself.
He and his brother are an example of thousands of Yemeni children who are forced to work demanding jobs in order to sustain their families.