Reverse Affirmative Action

This is what I call the Qatarization policy in effect in Doha. The root is the fact that the nationals, “qataris” those born to Qatari fathers (not mothers who have married non-Qataris) are eligible for citizenship, and they are vastly outnumbered in their own country. 

Of a population reaching 1.5 million, Qataris comprise about 250,000. The rest are people who have made their homes in Qatar for work such as Western or Asian workers, or for stabilty from conflict zones in the region, such as Palestinians, Iraqis, or the Sudanese. I’ve written about the tensions of Qataris feeling overwhelmed previously. See: “Ever Been Called Out in Print” which are reactions when this issue came to my own doorstep.

A few ruminations on this mult-ilayered and complex issue:

The ‘quota’ system is talked about in all the newspapers, radio, and on the minds of everyone in any industry in the country. How to get Qataris trained and into all aspects of the job force is a national issue and one of some debate. Since the oil boom, the average family income is roughly $60K, and most families far above this through private investments or enterprise.

Therefore a large segement of the population does not need to work for the sake of a salary. This means they have ruled out several roles that they do not want to play in organizations or as professionals, including: administrative assistants, or entry level jobs, as well as nearly all jobs that require high contact hours or have low status such as teaching or nursing.

How do you motivate a population that does not need to work?

Related question: how do you motivate students who are not reaching for the dangling carrot of a plumb job after graduation?

In this wealthy and insular society, it is about 5% of the population who are forward thinking, hard working, and setting the example for others of serving their country for the sake of honor and national pride.

It’s a delicate balance between all those who are here, or have been here for generations, but are never from here – a stark contrast to my own naturalization into American citizenship – and those to whom this country is given.

Working with students is particularly hard because the ‘international’ population, as I’ve come to call them (non-Qatari) are often the most engaged and ready to avail of any opportunity. Yet, making calls to my stand out Qatari students to motivate their peers is daily habit and likely the only way things will change.

Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, change of this kind is a long, steady process.

And as long as the Qataris are paying the bills, they will reserve their seats on the bus, whether any among them uses them or not.

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