Today’s post will be short, because I am in the midst of packing for a little vacation in Rome. I have never visited Italy, so I am pretty chuffed about it. I have been also quite busy of late, but never too busy to do a post.
Today’s topic is something that I have always found interesting. It is about the way in which citizens of Persian gulf states feel swamped by the numbers of expats invading their lands. In Qatar, locals make up just 15% of the population, whilst the rest is composed of a hodge -podge of foreigners from Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Europe and other Arab states.
Up until recently i.e. before the financial crisis really took shape, it was not as common for the western media to cover the issue of tensions between expats and Gulfies. It was always through a rose-tinted lense that we saw this unique part of the world. It was all about luxury living, fast cars and indoor ski slopes, but now, it has become a place where foreigners must pay close attention to their comportment: no more kissing or holding hands in public, because you could wind up in prison. What makes it worse is the ambiguity of the legal system, and the fact that it disfavours the expat community. It is almost impossible for foreigners to get citizenship in countries such as UAE, Qatar and of course, Saudi Arabia. No matter if one stays for decades, it does not make a difference. You will remain an ajnabi.
If there is growing xenophobia, then it needs to be nipped in the bud, because whether they like it or not, the foreign community is vital to the development of the region. They are essential, and as the oil wealth diminishes, so will the desire of many to stay in lands where they do not feel welcome. Local Gulfies will have to contend with taking on the kinds of jobs that they currently delegate to foreigners. This is what is required if they are determined to maintain their own cultural heritage and traditions.