Publication venue: Alraya newspaper Dear Qatari Society, why am I facing injustice

Publication venue: Alraya newspaper
Dear Qatari Society, why am I facing injustice because of my name?
Growing up I never really new the difference between me and the girl sitting next to me in class, until I started getting asked in school “what’s your name?” and I’ll reply “Sara
Mubarak” the person then asks me for my family name again, and I’ll reply “Mubarak”. Getting asked if I’m sure my family name is Mubarak and not Al-Mubarak is way better than people automatically thinking I have no clue what I’m saying and change my name to Sara Al-Mubarak. This disapproval that my family name couldn’t be a name on itself rather, it had to have Al at the beginning for me to “fit in” with the Qataris made me very self-conscious about saying my full name to anyone.
Since most Qatari girls in my class had Al at the beginning of their family name, whenever we had to be split into groups based on the first letter of our family name, I ended up always being left out from the Qatari group since my name didn’t end in Al, meaning I could never make the cut. This always made me feel as though I wasn’t Qatari enough, or that I had something missing.
All these things that felt like inequities at the time, grew into bigger, real-world problems and iniquities that now not only affect me personally, but affect many people that live in Qatar that are like me. Non-original Qataris.
Now is the time to shed light on all the injustices us non-originals face in the Qatari community. No more fearing the consequences of what’s going to happen if we speak on what we have endured, as citizens that are not able to gain full rights to their citizenship. In this case particularly, critiquing is not a bad thing, within ourselves self-critiquing is a patriotic and important way to improve ourselves and is not something to shy away from, but rather work on. Hence, I feel the need to bring up this problem that affects non-original Qataris.
The injustices we face because of our family name
In one way or another, these inequities that are influenced by your family name, integrated themselves to limit us from many things, in our families, connection and also marriages. Every person in my family, is affected by these inequities. For instance, everyone in my family is unable to vote, unable to marry into certain families, and unable to get land from the government as every other Qatari.
When speculations in early august of 2021 started about having a shura council in Qatar I got very excited, like most Qataris did. The shura council was a new, democratic way for our voices to be heard through people we elect. To my shock, I wasn’t even considered eligible to vote since I am not ‘Qatari enough’. The process of voting in Qatar clearly expresses how Qatar would like to divide between all Qatari citizens by providing some people more rights than others, and publicly naming people non-originals. The voting process split people into 3 sections, a section that is considered Original Qatari where people can both run and vote, a section whose grandparents were born in Qatar that can only vote, and non-originals who nor have the right to vote or run. (Fanack article, 2021). This division only created more room for speculation. I had to question my nationality, all over again. How Qatari am I? Will I ever be able to live in a country I call home while feeling like an outsider?
Like most of you know, being Qatari and a man, guarantees you land from the government. However, after a newly established law in 2005 demonstrated how original Qataris are the only people allowed to gain land from the government. Imagine having a law that discriminates against you in your homeland? How many people have been relying on this land to aid them with the unrealistic living standards in Qatar? This newly established law makes no sense to me as a non-original Qatari. My father back in his time was able to get land from the government, why are my brothers now being deprived from rights my father and all my uncles had?
Depriving people from land and the ability to vote goes against all of the strategic ideation of what Qatar could be, a fair, equal place for all its citizens. While other countries are trying to push back on all claims about inequities in their countries, trying to equalize between all citizens and residents of their countries, and making policies to avoid discriminating between people, Qatar is introducing more inequities into a population, between their citizens, and by law may I emphasize. So why introduce laws that restricts such rights and differentiate between citizens?
Why is this issue not addressed enough?
The main reason people fear addressing the issue of the unjust living conditions of being a non-original Qatari, is all the stories heard about what happens to people if they talk. This fear however was overcome by the tribe of Al-Marri in August of 2021. People of this tribe, took to the streets, to protest the unfairness of the voting requirement to the shura council. However, they were met with police vehicles surrounding them, and ended in detaining a number of seven people. (BBC, 2022). I believe the outcome of these protests made people fear addressing the problem directly, but rather address it indirectly through their twitter accounts with a more emotional approach to clearly display the extent of how emotional the situation is.
Another reason people fear addressing the problem, is the backlash they may get from originals, trying to prove that non-originals get more than what they deserve. So having your government turning their back on you is not enough, you now have your fellow citizens attack you for speaking on the injustice you endure. A tweet that didn’t come as a shock to me but may surprise some of you, is a tweet that surfaced on my timeline from a fake twitter account, “It is enough that they take, like the original Qatari, and maybe more than him Land, loan, and aid from the Diwan, etc.” (jealous citizen, 2021) Why is it than when people ask for their rights we find people like jealous citizen try to prove that we aren’t worthy of getting all our rights because we aren’t Qatari enough.
Surely, we cannot change the law, not even if we try (seeing as though we have no representation and have no one to make our voices heard). But what we can do, is educate people on what us non-originals go through. Maybe a few generations later we will be able address this issue publicly or not even have it be a problem?