By Aroosa Khalid
Qatar is a shining example of peaceful co-existence and co-operation among different communities. Although Islam is the official religion of Qatar, all faiths are respected and everyone enjoys the freedom to follow their own sets of belief in complete harmony.
Expatriates also have the right to preserve their cultural identity as long as they don’t collide with native values and traditions. The more diverse a country grows, the more challenged people are to challenge their own prejudices, biases, and beliefs. The spirit of solidarity, harmony and benevolence evident in the people of Qatar is something of a common thread with respect to expatriates and migrant workers.
Community spoke to a clutch of expatriates, who cited their experiences of how they came to build excellent relations with the citizens as well as resident communities in a diverse milieu.
Mehmood Ali Mohammed Jaffer
A senior Finance Manager at M/s Rosario Contracting Co WLL, the 64-year-old Indian has been living in Qatar for 29 years. He said: “Being part of a multicultural society is very helpful in that we are exposed to varied cultures. However, it is important to learn some basic elements of other cultures to ensure that due respect is accorded to sensitive cultural aspects of a cross section of the people. As we have our own identity from a very highly noble and well-respected culture, the basic elements are to co-exist with folks of different cultures. Living in Qatar which is a highly versatile society, our culture has the respect of one and all; hence, we are given much respect and regarded with respect in all walks of Qatari life.”
The 60-year-old Pakistani is an engineer by profession and works in a government department. He has been living in Qatar for 28 years. Masoom said: “Working in a multicultural domain is extremely demanding. The study of these differences is interesting. Essentially, the major cultural teachings are not much different in the end. One learns of new ways at work. But sticking to your own values is neither a cause for annoyance nor hated. That having said, I have noticed that local cultural values and traits are inherently helpful to generate inter-community harmony. Securing a sound financial base is surely the reason why an expat chooses to work abroad. But Qatar is extraordinary in that it has the kind of conducive and welcoming environment that makes it seem like a second home for a foreigner. Working in a multicultural environment is a great experience and one learns from amongst the best in the profession, inducing peak performance all the time.”
The 29-year-old Ukrainian works in the hospitality sector. Rog, who has been living in Qatar for two-and-a-half years, said: “To be honest, in the beginning, it was a challenge trying to adapt to the multicultural milieu especially with regard to the language barrier. But after some time, one got used to it and the all-embracing spirit was just incredible. So yes, accepting and respecting the cultural dynamics of Qatar has been a rewarding experience. Safety, stable economy, cultural values are what I admire the most here. It’s a like a hub of universal values.”
The 37-year-old Sri Lankan is a designer by profession and works as an art director for a media and publication company. He has been in Qatar for the past 13 years. Shabdeen said: “I feel it’s an advantage working in an innovative environment which enables us to respect cultural differences. It’s a challenge how to sync with individuals from different cultures, but engaging with them developed my self-confidence. A new place with a different mix is always likely to throw up some differences. But in my case, these ‘differences’ helped me rediscover my own culture by differentiating it from the new ethos. Most importantly, living and working in a foreign country like Qatar enables you to learn and experience new professional skills. Qatar believes in the strong influence of culture, which enables us to be open to other cultures; thanks to this, we appreciate, learn and are inspired to build a modern and tolerant society. I think we should look at the beauty of individuality with its ethnic and cultural aspects that binds people and contributes to appreciating one another even more. We all have something interesting and special to offer each other.”
The 24-year-old Pakistani born and raised in Qatar, is a software engineer by profession and works in an IT company. He said: “Working in a multicultural environment requires a certain level of patience. People from different backgrounds often have different ways of accomplishing tasks and human interactions. They are neither right nor wrong, only different. People are learning to value diversity more than in the past. Although we are far from perfect, most ordinary Qatar citizens have learned not to discriminate against people because of their religion, their lifestyle or their views. That’s the reason we are at peace. Qatar is very safe, with low levels of even petty crime, end-of-contract benefits or end-of-service benefits.
Qatar enables you to acquire new professional skills. Differences teach you to rediscover your own culture through differentiating it from a new culture. You get the chance to learn the meanings behind all those rituals, traditions and beliefs.
Raymond Brian Kidd
The 42-year-old American works as a Logistics Engineer in a government department and has been living in Qatar for two years. He said: “I’ve always enjoyed working with people with unique cultural perspectives. In general, I find Qatar to be more diverse than most of the countries that I’ve worked in and I think that makes the opportunity to live and work in Doha a rich and rewarding experience.
I’ve always had a confident personality and have never felt that my respective identity or ability to coexist was a concern in the slightest. I find that most people, myself included, have a tremendous sense of pride in supporting Qatar in their praiseworthy pursuit to improve the country and the lives of everyone living in Qatar.
Qatar provides expatriates the financial freedom to achieve their personal goals. The state incentivises expatriates to live and work in Qatar by providing affordable healthcare services, low taxes, security, and safety.
What I love about living in Qatar is that I’m given the opportunity every day to truly improve the opinions of my co-workers. They commonly meet me with hesitation and scepticism and are genuinely surprised when they find me to be helpful and enjoying their company. I truly enjoy breaking through these ideas and showing people that we are all individuals and deserve the opportunity to show our own talents and skills. I believe that there is a bright future in the eyes of Qatari youth and that in the future all peoples in Qatar will be judged not by nationality, ethnicity, race, or colour but by the content of their character and the accomplishments which they achieve through hard work and honest efforts.”
The 33-year-old Filipina is a Leasing Manager at Homes 2 Rent and has been living in Qatar for three years. She said: “One of the greatest perks of working in a multi-cultural setup is that no matter what you’ll never find yourself in a monotonous routine. The amount of knowledge and real-world experience you’ll gain is priceless. As a Leasing Manager to one of the prominent real estate agencies here in Qatar, I am dealing with clients of different nationalities. There is a good chance you need to work with people from several different racial, language, ethnic, or economic groups. And in order to work with people from different groups effectively, you need to rebuild sturdy and caring relationships primarily based on trust, understanding, and shared goals.
“To learn to develop as a person, you must discover things about yourself that you may not have known before: your beliefs, passions, and character. Through interacting with a foreign society you are bound to be exposed to all aspects of life that would be difficult to learn in your native country. This immense personal growth is something that can’t be learned by reading a book, or even by searching online.”
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