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Separating the races in Qatar - or just all very innocent, like South Africa?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by binaryhex, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Redparrotfish likes this.
  2. Redparrotfish

    Redparrotfish New commenter

  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, binaryhex, expat teachers who go work in schools in Doha are not supporting the regime. If you follow your line of reasoning, then I suppose you could argue that expat teachers in Moscow are all keen on poisoning people in Salisbury or that Brits who are working in the US are all fans of Donald Trump. Yes, I agree that there is a lot of racism in Qatar and I have made this quite clear whenever teachers have written to me and asked for my advice about getting a job there. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have similar regimes.

    If the salaries and the working conditions were better in many schools in the UK, then probably lots of teachers would never want to leave the UK in the first place, so perhaps your anger and disgust should aimed elesewhere.
  4. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Thank you, Hipster!
    We are all guilty, if living somewhere makes us complicit in a country's crimes.
    Is my cousin complicit in Kavanaugh's sexual assaults, because she lives in the US?
    Is TheoGriff complicit in refugees camping at the edge of the Chunnel, because she lives in the UK?
    Where does binaryhex live, I wonder, that she is innocent of all crimes?
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter


    When I first moved to Saudi, I returned for a visit to my previous UK Secondary School. In a conversation with the Headteacher, she said "I just couldn't do what you are doing". When I asked what she meant (thinking it would be on the lines of "Be brave enough to venture outside the UK and outside your comfort zone - well done"), she said "Working in a Police State where everyone is repressed and there are so many injustices".

    I didn't bother responding
  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Tricky one this. I lived in Qatar for 5 years. Racism is a way of life there. It is institutionalized. Not enforced by mass beatings or police firing machine guns, but enforced nevertheless.

    The Villagio shopping mall featured in the article will not let men who look like they may be Indian, Pakistani, Nepali, Fillipino or poor in. I have seen single men, groups of men refused entry on the grounds that men of their nationality are not allowed in. The men involved never question the refusal to allow admittance, they just walk away.

    For many of the men, the living conditions in Qatar are palatial in comparison to where they came from. So they are generally happy where they are housed.

    Stories abound of workers being refused time off for medical issues, resulting in death.

    The idea of having an area where these men can go shop in peace may appeal to some of them. Better than being refused entry to Villagio.

    Enforced institutionalised racism may seem totally unacceptable to most civilised folk. It is simply a way of life in Qatar.
    agbak likes this.
  7. agbak

    agbak New commenter

    How are you enjoying 'retirement' dear hippo?
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Thank you for asking. Retirement is very good, agbak, and you can read all about it in my blog.

    Yes, moscowbore, I saw Indian and Pakistani men barred from Villaggio, whereas single "western" men were allowed in. And let us not forget that the Qatari owners of Villaggio were never properly punished for their flagrant disregard of safety regulations, leading to the tragic death of those poor children in the awful fire.

    Yes, of course you will come across a lot of racism and other blatant injustices while you are teaching in Qatar. I am not denying that. But does your presence in Qatar (or in other, similar places in the ME and elsewhere in the world) make life even worse for those at the bottom of the heap? Or better? Or does your presence make no difference at all? The recent developments in Qatar seem to be a step (a rather small step) in the right direction, so that something has been done to make things better for migrant labourers. Malko po malko, as we say in Bulgaria.
  9. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Wasn't Kavanaugh cleared by the FBI? Not been keeping up to date
  10. Fromafar9

    Fromafar9 New commenter

    Thank you!
    People are very quick to get defensive about their level of support in such matters but it really is quite simple. Governments across the board are playing their part, yes. You may not always be able to control the system you’ve been born into or where you’ve lived, absolutely. But if you’re going to consciously make a decision to live/work somewhere then YES you are supporting them. Your choice, of course, but at least own your lack of humanity and accept it.

    Wouldn’t catch me going to some countries for all the money in the world.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, Fromafar9, you are not "supporting" racism or other forms of injustice by teaching in Qatar or anywhere else in the world. If a teacher from the UK does not accept a teaching post in Doha, so what? The school will simply hire someone from Australia or New Zealand or Ireland or Canada or wherever. So what have your moral standards achieved? Absolutely nothing. The children in schools all over the Middle East deserve a good education, like children everywhere. If they are expat children, then it is not their fault that their parents decided to go and work in Qatar or Saudi Arabia or Nigeria.

    Incidentally, Fromafar9, the TES keeps posting advertisements for teaching posts in Qatar and other places where human rights are not respected. So does this mean that you are going to stop reading the TES and that you will no longer be posting on this forum? And did you write to the TES Moderators and tell them about their support for repressive regimes? What did the Mods say in their reply?

    Regular readers of my blog will know that I went to the Crimea during the summer, to stay with my in-laws in Simferopol. So does that mean, Fromafar9, that I approve of Russian spies murdering people on the streets of Salisbury? No, it does not and I don't. But most Russians respect Vladimir Putin and they appreciate what he has done for their country, whereas most Brits do not feel the same way about Theresa May.

    crimea small42.jpg
  12. bead

    bead New commenter

    Also things can and do change over time. I spent many years working behind the old iron curtain and the regimes there were awful. Rumania was probably the worst with people on the verge of starvation, Bulgaria was not much better but people survived and the rest were similar with the Poles at least never giving in. People were not allowed out and foreigners(the very few allowed to work there) were not welcomed by the authorities.
    These countries are now part of the EU and are unrecognizable from the old days. The contact with foreigners and being allowed to travel freely has created a new generation with a completely different mentality.
    If we refuse to go, we cannot change anything, or make friends with the ordinary people there.
  13. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I would add that Qatar would never bow to international pressure to do anything. They have their own way of doing things and so it shall be.
    There is strong pro-Sharia law pressure on the young Emir. There are very influential people who constantly pressure the Emir to make Qatar more like Saudi. Weird stuff happens as a consequence of this. For example, school holidays for international schools have been changed at very short notice and then changed back again. The explanation is that someone of a certain point of view decided that International schools must have the same holidays as Islamic schools so the SEC were told to announce that the holidays had been changed. Literally the same day. Someone in the government of a different point of view ordered the SEC to announce a retraction, the same day. It then comes down to who holds the most influence with the Emir. This is normal for Qatar.

    There was one famous occasion where flights were booked for Easter holidays and then the holidays were changed I think the week before the scheduled holiday. Thousands spent on flights, all lost. All due to in fighting inside the government.

    If an individual decides not to go live in Qatar on the grounds that they could not condone the Qatari way of life by their presence, I applaud this. No effect on Qatar, but, a moral statement not to be belittled.

    Qatar has improved the conditions of their workers. The conditions would not be acceptable in any civilised country, but they have been improved. The basic idea that an employer has the right to refuse to let you leave the country is why I would never return to Qatar. There is a footballer who fell out with his football club in Qatar who is still in jail after years for the simple reason that his football club refuse to give him permission to leave the country. This is legal and normal in Qatar.

    If the world made a boycott of the world cup in Qatar, change would happen. This would have to happen at government level. Highly unlikely.

    The final of the Asia cup in Qatar 2011 was an interesting day. People had flown from all corners of the Earth , ticket in hand to watch the game. Thousands arrived at the ground to be told that the ground was full. "I have a ticket", they cried. "Full", they were told. What had happened was that every male worker in every branch of the government had been handed a thobe, the long white dress worn by Middle Eastern men, and bussed to the stadium. Someone in government had given away so many tickets to the final that there was no room for those who had actually bought tickets. The government simply filled the stadium with people who looked Arabic. These are the people running the 2022 world cup.
  14. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I can see both sides of the argument (between Binaryhex and Hippo) here. Just.

    Personally, I've always felt a bit suspect about my Aunt and Uncle who moved to South Africa during apartheid and then moved back again when it became clear apartheid was going to end. Likewise, one of the many reasons I'm in Spain is because - in law at least, if not always in practice - people of all genders, races, sexual orientation, religion, and ability are treated equality. I wouldn't like to live (or even visit) somewhere where this is not that case - and having grown up in Yemen, Kenya and Tanzania I know of what I speak. As I child, I had no choice in the matter. I'm an adult now, so I do, and I'd rather than my taxes and spending money did not support governments that don't treat their citizens and residents equally. For that matter, I never knowingly buy products from such countries either.

    However, as the wise old Hippo says, somebody has to educate the children in these places. Perhaps it is better that it is somebody who has grown up in a more equitable environment and thus can pass on some of those values to others (and what a terribly neo-colonial and western ideal that is). Or perhaps not.

    Reading Moscowbore's post above, one wonders what would happen should foreign workers simply refuse to take up posts in Qatar. Would the Qatari government investigate why and perhaps realise that some changes might be required? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, as long as people are willing to work there under the current status quo, then there is certainly no rational reason for the Qataris (or any country) to want to change the status quo.
  15. Fromafar9

    Fromafar9 New commenter

    Well hippo, with a view like that why bother with morals at all? They’ll always be injustices so let’s all just be quiet and accept them shall we?

    No thanks, I’d rather do my part (as insignificant as it may be) to be a decent human and not ‘support’ such countries and their inhumane policies. We must pick our battles. Yes, people will still go and I hope they enjoy themselves.

    Perhaps change could be possible if we cared enough to make it so, perhaps.
    binaryhex likes this.
  16. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
    ― Robert F. Kennedy
  17. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I stand up for my ideals by engaging, not by retreating.
    For those who feel morally obligated to avoid certain places, might I ask what tangible thing you’ve done to improve the situation in those places? Or is your sole “contribution” feeling self-righteous and superior from afar?
    Those of us who engage have the opportunity to get something done.
  18. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I can't see that sort of thing ending well. Can you imagine if there are 20,000 England and Russia supporters who turn up for a game with valid tickets and get turned away? The Qataris might wish then that they hadn't bothered with the whole thing.....
  19. 1stSgtWelsh

    1stSgtWelsh New commenter

    Word. I've never taught in Qatar, but, have taught in Oman. I remember once talking to an Indian migrant worker in Salalah about his working conditions and, after he described them, I asked him why he chose to move to the Gulf. His response was, simply, "it's better than India". Sadly, for most of the migrant workers in the GCC, that's probably spot on. I've traveled extensively through Southeast and South Asia and I can easily understand why they might take a chance on working in the GCC and vote with their feet.

    Besides, we are teachers, not arms dealers, and, if all foreign teachers refuse to teach in Qatar then the education system there will be that much worse off because of it. If you want progress on this issue, and others, then doing what we can to educate the population and thereby contribute to making Qataris better global citizens is, IMHO, obviously desirable and constructive. If others want to look down their nose at the Gulf teachers, OK, but, I, for one, won't be joining you.
    Mr_Frosty and stopwatch like this.
  20. SineField

    SineField Occasional commenter

    Mind bogglingly lacking in logic....

    So by your definition anyone who works in any country, either as an expat or local, is by default giving explicit or implicit approval to the governing party's policies?

    There are currently about 25 countries in Africa where FGM is widely practiced and certainly not a criminal offence... so if if I work there in any capacity I am in fact giving my seal of approval to this?

    So anyone that works in Japan, Singapore or Taiwan is giving the death penalty the OK?

    You do sound like one of those teachers that believe that anyone who works in a private school needs to be vilified, because for some bizarre reason you think they are responsible for all of educations problems.....

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