Update: Expatriates are the future threat of the entire Gulf: HE Dahi Khalfan Tamim Wednesday, 29 December 2010 20:44Excerpts from the interview of Dahi Khalfan Tamim in a Qatar Television show titled ‘Laqum Al Qarar’ (The Decision is Yours). The interview was conducted in Arabic and this is the English translation.
How do you see the hosting of the World Cup 2022 and what will its impact be on the Gulf? Will migrant workers in Qatar be affected and Gulf citizens in general?
First of all I would like to extend my best wishes and blessings to His Highness Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, on the occasion of National Day, as I would like to pay tribute to the hospitality received by Qatar, which placed the country in the global rank. Qatar’s name is on everyone’s tongue and I do not think that any country will enjoy such reputation that was enjoyed by the State of Qatar and its rulers.
Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup 2022 will have a positive impact in the entire Gulf region, because we have witnessed in the past Qatar’s professionalism in organization of events who had won admiration from the entire world, let alone the output of such hosting.
What is your take on expats and their impact on the Islamic identity in the region?
Speaking from the security point of view, I personally sense the seriousness of expats but I would like to clarify I won’t know anything about the impact. And I wouldn’t like to comment on it since the topic remains sensitive.
Going by the economic aspect, in the Gulf country an expat comes here on labour or a worker’s visa, but later he starts his own business by either buying a small shop or venturing into other trade slowly turning a rich man.
Local citizens though are the actual owners are not trying to expand their business who rely on the expats, which is a sad thing.
Can the Gulf citizen compete in this field economically? What is the impact of foreign workers on the Islamic identity and national identity?
Frankly speaking, expatriates are doing well in the Gulf despite the fact there is language barrier here. Expats are found in every nook and streets of the Gulf, and if they can prosper here then why not its citizens.
What if any day their government insisted on giving expats Gulf nationality?
If this kind of thing arises, then we would send in their government’s nationality request to the United Nations which will be backed by the organizing bodies involved and interested in human rights. If we refuse then we will be accused of racism and will be boycotted economically and commercially, even diplomatically. If we accepted it then no fingers of accusation will be raised.
There is a study that the Gulf is planning cancellation of sponsorship. What will be its impact and result?
Yes, that's just a study, but so far it has not been considered and we do not know whether it will be approved or not, as the matter is still under discussion level. But let me state here the matter is of security. Earlier, there used to be faces known to us, but now there are plenty of unknown faces around us. For example, when we used to go to the mosques, we would find our near and dear ones with whom we used to share our feelings but now if you enter a mosque you will find all new faces from other countries. This will definitely pose a danger sign in the near future.
Do you think that the Arab identity is in danger?
Yes, the foreigner presents his idea, culture and identity on the Gulf society. I will not hide from you a secret as a security man that there are criminal customs and cases that were never found or heard about in our Gulf society, for example - issues of paints and the third sex. These customs and beliefs brought to our communities with the number of increasing expats. It may be a normal habit and acceptable in their community, but it has undoubtedly formed a thorny issue in our Gulf society.
By this do you mean that an Indian will some day be the president of the UAE?
Why specifically Emirates and not Qatar, or Kuwait or any Gulf state? Gulf is one and what is applied to a state is not unlikely to happen to another. It can’t be ruled out that after 70 years you will see in Arabian Gulf an Indian president from, like what happened
to the United States of America where a Kenyan Barack Obama took over as President. So when it can happen in the United States why not in the Arabian Gulf.
Do you mean the collapse of descendent of crown princes in the Gulf?
Yes, if this massive presence in and the fear of globalization which do not count remained in the Gulf States, we will find ourselves that there will be international laws of settlement
and claims to grant nationality to expatriates who have lived in the land of GCC for this or that period. The Gulf citizens in our society constitute a proportion of 15 to 20 per cent while the percentage of residing foreign workers is 80 to 90 per cent. Here in front of international law and claims to nationalization and citizenship for expatriates we will find ourself very embarrassed and there will be no alternative to obedience of the majority. Don’t be surprised, I am talking with a long-term strategic point of view.
We have to recognize one fact, specifically going by the past years and experiences which shows us the imposition of resettlement on some countries of the international community that led to victory for majority. It is sure that the United Nations will not list our demands at a time when the report of the governments of expats claim for the right to self-determination will reach to grant their people the nationality in the Gulf - as it happened in Singapore!!
What is the action plan for the GCC?
Now the GCC states can set up a Gulf Consortium and not a Gulf Council modelled on the European Union.
What is the difference between the Gulf Consortium and the European Union?
The difference is very clear, as is the case of the European Union. The land of the Gulf and Gulf citizens will be on equal terms for the rights and duties. Yes, every member of the Gulf Consortium will decide its internal issues, but it will remain a United Gulf on the Gulf ground.
I am talking about national identity and strengthen the identity of the Gulf, because each of us look at his country with a narrow perspective and does not see from the perspective of a Gulf region as a whole, which will end up on we will suffering from the fear of complex population structure in the Gulf.
For example you in Qatar will have more than one million workers for the preparations to host the 2022 World Cup. Do you see the scene and the picture from now on? The only Gulf country which is excluded from that is Sultanate of Oman. The volume of worker in Qatar would reach one million six hundred thousand (1,600,000) at least, and this means that the percentage of Qataris will be less than 10 per cent.
The expats are the major problem and we must develop strategies to address them, and one way to address the real problem is United Gulf.
Another thing here is the language barier. Most of the Gulf citizens are forced to learn expats’ language which is an insult to our citizens. What is your take on this? Will there be a solution to this?
You have every right because the whole Gulf uses foreign workers and the most of them are from Asia and those workers came to our society with the habit and values that do not suit us perfectly. The abnormal phenomena in our society and the values that don’t suit our values should be noticed. All these cultural habits except language are found to be floating on the surface of Gulf community. The variables with the society are not with the cultural identity only but also with the national identity.
The problem is not in them but it is in us because we don’t create solutions. Why we blame expats and don’t blame our policies and the planners of the recruitment policies? The official dress for workers has now become extinct and Kuwait is the biggest example. And it is not Kuwait alone but the entire Gulf society is suffering from the decline of identity of national uniform. On the professional level the state facilitates the licensing and recruitment of workers who carry with them their culture, identity and beliefs and undoubtedly spread the same in our society. If we look from the perspective of regulation of such employment and not allowing it to rise, the ruler as an individual and society as a whole are a group of citizens and some of them work in different ministries of the state and that they must stand to stop.
Do you mean that the concerned authorities failed to deliver the result and therefore this problem accumulated? Have the ministers failed?
I didn’t mean the ministers and didn’t accuse them of failure. This is only an example of what must be done and the example of the failure of our youth and our citizens and the fault is not in expats, but it is in us. I exclude Sultanate of Oman from all of this because it is the only Gulf state that has adopted the policy of reduction of expats.
I like to pay tribute to the youth of Oman, who entered the work market in jobs in which rest of the Gulf states still continue to use the foreign workers. A Omani citizen works at a vegetable shop and even in a grocery store and also as a taxi driver. The Omani citizen accepted the ordinary work in order not to recruit the labour that share with them their abilities, affect their identity and bring the alien cultures and customs in the Omani society as it happened in the rest of the GCC states. The youth in the Gulf refuses and resents the ordinary work despite being not qualified and doesn’t like to replace a foreigner in the work. Therefore, we find them complaining of unemployment. Isn’t a strange matter? But they blame the policy of the state and the expats who does what is supposed to be done by a citizen of the state.
Is the population of the citizens the reason of these migrant workers?
Yes, this may be one of the points and not the base. If you look around you at the buildings and the competition in the construction despite the less number of citizens, then who will live in those buildings? The irreversibility line is not an easy matter and a strategy must be made to get us out of that dilemma legally and away from the reports and decisions of the organizations of human rights and the United Nations and other bodies.
The unemployment, bachelorhood and the cost of living are increasing. A section of young men have missed the chance of marriage and the other section is not able to give birth. What is the solution?
I think in the beginning the marriage funds must be activated to encourage young people to tie the knot. A plan must be developed to increase the reproduction and stimulate families by developing a strategy for the allowances for each child and thus the number of households to be increased by increasing the reproduction. Otherwise we will go eroded as the people of Gulf.
Do you recognize the 66 initiatives that you put forward?
Neither I put forward any initiative nor did I declare any. I do not know from where a journalist who published this topic came to know. I read the topic in the newspapers like you did. I had presented a strategy to solve the population problem 15 years ago. A committee was formed and I put forward the initiative and presented it to all the rulers of the UAE, but things were not applied on the ground and just kept as an initiative. We have to deal with the demographics first even until we in the coming 20 years go up to 50 per cent of citizens among the 50 per cent of foreigners. There is no complete solution because the population of foreign workers is more than the indigenous population of the Gulf 100 times.
Is the incident of Al Mabhouh not an indication that the citizen of Gulf is not safe in his homeland? The insecure feeling of Gulf citizens negatively affects the psyche? Especially the help that the accused got to kill him was provided by the residents.
The residents who helped the accused in killing Al Mabhouh were not from the UAE and they are not residing on its land but they are residents of other states. The political security is provided to 150 to 200 nationalities. We are in turmoil and it is certain that it will affect us negatively on the psyche of the citizen who entered a mosque and looked around and didn’t find any acquaintance.
There is a policy adopted by the Security that watches the Gulf citizen round the clock which also has a negative effect.
The Security does not monitor the Gulf citizen and there is no loss of privacy. There is no surveillance of any citizen or resident unless we see the phenomena which require to be followed up. The follow-up and surveillance takes place after getting permission from the Attorney General. The surveillance is not arbitrary, nor does it watch any person except the suspects. Do not forget that 90 per cent are foreigners, who leave a negative impact on the political situation as expats help the United Nations to make reports that always blame the Gulf society.
Within the legislation how we see the citizens from the law’s point of view?
In the beginning they were our guests. Today the problem is that there are contracts binding on the sponsor with charters and international standards and the sponsor is blamed if any defect is found. The citizen who sponsors the workers is responsible and has all the commitments from A to Z before the law and authorities.
Sometimes job contracts are exaggerated in order to avoid the complaint from UN and international organizations and fearing international blame on us if any government submitted a report on its nationals working in the Gulf to any of those international organizations. We must, therefore, take into account those points in the legislation and the law.
Do you expect guest workers will decrease in the region?
How it will come down as everywhere in the shops, markets, constructions, contracting, vehicle workshops and municipality there are foreigners.
The Red Indians was a title applied to Indians in America. Will there be a day the proverb “brown people from Gulf” will be applied to us?
It is very difficult to rule out that phenomenon if such situation continued to increase. In the next 50 years foreign workers will have a huge impact on our Gulf identity and there is the fear that we find ourselves in front of law that binds us with the naturalization and the citizenship.
Intervention from Kuwait – Mahmoud Rabee: What is your role to find out solutions away from the repercussions of the past, I mean what is the solution in the future?
If I had to take the decision then I would have done the same immediately by reducing and rationing these guest workers to the Gulf. But this decision is governed by other things on the political and international level as well as our citizens also failed to solve that problem.
Intervention from Bahrain – The studies have confirmed that the Gulf States are the most attractive regions of the world for Asian labourers. What would you say?
Yes, the Asian are tempted by the Gulf States because of the poverty of those countries, while we are an attractive region for them to live on our land. There are many reasons that lead the Asian people to approach us including the banking sectors. Competitions, awards in millions declared by the banks, draws that are made on cars, bank certificates, a life of plenty in Gulf that encourage the Asian community to come and stable in the Gulf ... Imagine that Asian labour remittances from the Gulf amounts to 413 billion annually.
If you were not an army man, what you would have wished to be?
I wish I was a merchant.
Do the expats pose a threat in the Gulf?
Yes they do pose a threat. Our government wants them to be here get married and produce children. Our government wants them to be here and take care of us our children.
A female citizen from the University of Sharjah intervened
The late father Sheikh Zayed - and his proverb: making of the mankind - and the work in accordance with the proverb over the eras - we in the Gulf face lack of numbers and lack of experience and lack of skills.
We must get qualified and qualify the Gulf youth so that he can replace the foreigner. In the past, a man in the Gulf used to work for his country and now we find the citizen seeing it with a self perspective. He is reluctant to marry in order to complete his education abroad, and everyone wants to work as a manager and do not accept the job accepted by the foreigners. Before blaming the officials we should blame the youth of the Gulf who sees the common work and job (as failure in front of his friends). The citizens are the reason.
An interposition from Doctor Hassan, Engineer, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the population of Qatar
Thus we see the increasing impact of the growing labour on food security, political security and all the economic aspects. The qualitative composition is adversely affects without a doubt and poses a threat economically. Here, you must think of the development of local talent until they go along the development process and replace the foreign workers creating a work force in our land. That 76 per cent of the Qatari society are male. Why then their competence not developed and the best elements are not extracted to replace expatriate workers? Arabic language will decline in our societies in the generations to come. The reason is that there is a lack of cultural identity under a harmonious combination that lives in the Qatari community except the deviations of the crimes, behavioural abnormalities and poor services and all that affects the political security.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Update: Dubai Police Chiefs Comments
Posted by middleeast-watch at 5:50 PM