Monday, November 19, 2007

Prospects and progress in the Arabian Gulf

My continuing ninety degree learning curve results in my stumbling into amazing things on a daily basis. One question that I've continued to field from my colleagues when they want to know more about Qatar is related to women and their opportunities. Her Highness Sheikha Mozah is a very strong woman who provides a role model for women in the Gulf and elsewhere. Her remarks from May 2007 made it clear where women's rights stand in relation to human rights. She advocated choices that balance commitments to cultural and spiritual traditions. Her actions speak even more loudly than her words when opportunities are made available for Arab women in Qatar through advancing education and creating opportunities to lead cultural and business organizations.

Beyond opportunities for women, there continue to be some questions about opportunities for various cultural and national groups. The mix of nationalities here is truly and utterly amazing. I so enjoy going places and hearing so many different languages and seeing so many different styles of dress. One of the things challenging Dubai (down the Gulf in the UAE) is the perception that they have exploited different immigrant groups in the working class, particularly in the construction and hospitality industries. I've not sorted out how I see this but I do pay attention to my surroundings. Last week I went for the blood test and tomorrow I go for my eye test for immigration approval. These experiences have exposed me to all sorts of people who are coming to Qatar. The good thing is that Qatar grants working visas to those who are sponsored by a specific organization or entity. While the presence of immigrants helping build this country may be questioned, at least there are processes in place to validate their presence - not something that is available in all developing or developed countries. Those contributing to the building and development boom are people seeking to better their own lives by serving the country of Qatar. While it may raise questions of purpose, many find a place that offers greater opportunity than they would have had in their home country - not so different from the burgeoning frontier days of the U.S.A. Sometimes it feels a little like that in Qatar.

3 comments:

Darbi said...

Interesting thoughts - You've been blogging so much lately it's hard to keep up! What strikes me most about your description of "immigrant workers" (in which I'm assuming you're talking about the laboring class) is that in reading this you could be talking just as much about the massive amounts of Western expats seeking jobs in education and the petroleum industry... just as much about you and me.

Denny Roberts said...

I was actually talking about all of us ex-pats. Even those of us with advanced degrees are looking for a place to make a difference and that gives us new and better opportunities. In a very interesting way, it's the frontier for us all...

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