“Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family.” These words by Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations, clearly portray significance of migration for a better and securer future.
Qatar has long been a desired destination for people from South Asia as they look to it for better prospects outside their countries. The life of Indian expatriate Syed Abdul Hye, who set his foot in Qatar 61 years ago, is a telling story about how migration can help people attain prosperity in life.
Abdul Hye was only 18-year-old when he landed at the shores of Mesaieed in 1959. “It has been about 61 years since I first left my house in Karkala town near the city of Mangalore in Karnataka, southern state of India. Being the eldest son, I realised it very early that I had to provide a helping hand to my father to support the family. With the consent of my father, I decided, after completing matriculation, to leave for Qatar where my maternal uncle was already working. The uncle often used to support our large family. We were 14 siblings – 11 brothers and three sisters.”
The young Abdul Hye came to Qatar by sea as there were no flights available those days. “One of our neighbours was a trader and he often used to go to Mumbai. He helped me reach the port city by sea. An uncle of mine was working in the Mumbai Port Trust. He helped me complete my travel documents, passport and the visa. I completed my voyage to Qatar in nine days. I remember, on our way to Qatar, our ship stopped near Gwadar, a port city of Pakistan. Some boys came close to our ship in small boats. They were very good swimmers. To show their agility, they would ask us to throw coins in the water and they would collect the money by taking deep dives into the sea water.”
Upon reaching Qatar, he was received by his uncle at Mesaieed from where he reached his house in Rumailah. “At that time, the road to Doha was not paved. Oil was used as base material to make the road. Most of the houses in the area where I lived initially were made up of mud and stones. There was electricity available but not everywhere in Qatar. The road designs are same but some roads have been widened and expanded with the passage of time.
“My first job was as an English language typist with a private company. After some years, I quit my job and set up a workshop in the Industrial Area and started having contract works with oil companies. This is still our family business and now my son looks after it. I am also a founder member of the Ideal Indian School. I have been associated with different community and literary organisations besides being an active Toastmaster in Doha.”
Reflecting on his life in Qatar, Abdul Hye says that the country has given him everything.
“In Qur’an, Allah says that man cannot count His blessings. I mention this just to emphasise that I have collected countless blessings from this country. I have achieved a lot. I think my life would have been a lot different, if I had not come to Qatar. My children were born and brought up here. They got very good education here. I got very good business here. Now, my children are enjoying their lives in Qatar. I owe everything to this country. I have been able to pursue my two hobbies with passion. I have been an avid reader and a keen photographer. My shelves are full of books and photo albums. It has been a long but worthwhile journey so far.”
The long-time-resident of Qatar is all praise for the country’s attention on health and education sectors. “When I came to Qatar, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani was the ruler of the country. He was known to be a pious and wise man. I have seen Qatar develop very fast. There have been three key sectors where the government has continuously been performing very well. These are; security, health and education. The country has been overwhelmingly peaceful and secure. The governments have been paying extraordinary attention on health and education for both the citizens and the residents. I think myself lucky to have spent so much time in Qatar.”
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