Monday, February 25, 2013

Qatar's Emir Distracted?

Brief Context:
·      Since Sheik Khalifa’s deposition in 1995, by his son Hamad, Qatar has made huge gains for their people and their international influence. Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the current Emir of Qatar, had thrown a bloodless coup against his father while he was in Switzerland, and has led his country to make advancements in democratization, global peace rankings and economic power. Today, the Khalifa has moved his countries rank to 12 in the GPI (Global Peace Index), which leads the MENA, and he has also turned his country into the richest country per capita. Since Qatar’s power transition in 1995, the monarchy has shifted focus toward its international influence.

·      As many of us have previously discussed in class, Qatar’s Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has created the news network of Al Jazeera and has used this well funded news source to influence MENA and MENA’s view from outside international actors, whether it be downplaying or exaggerating political revolution in certain countries within the MENA. The Emir of Qatar has realized that its image and the MENA’s image could be greatly influenced by not only a news network, but also an English speaking one (introduced in 2006). Through this network the Emir has developed one of the most impressively time sensitive and extensive coverage in an English speaking news network of the MENA. A recent development from Al Jazeera is the purchase of Al-Gore’s channel, Current TV, in the United States.
Why We Should Care?:
·      This is a huge move from them because it will allow the emir of Qatar to further dictate what the most powerful country in the world thinks about current conflicts in the MENA. The fact that this country had a political coup less than 20 years ago, and is now not only the richest country in the world, but also one of the most peaceful, while all at the same time expanding its international influence, is something that should be studied and looked at closely by all nations, developed or not. That being said, so much economic and political power from such a small country can be dangerous for them. Locally, the government has no worries about their own people, as the risk of political violence or revolution is low from their own citizens. The people are wealthy, the women are allowed to vote and run for offices, and democratization is underway. Despite these positive factors, there is a large population accumulating in Qatar that should be taken into account. The migrant low-skilled labor and domestic workers population is large and growing. The high wage standards in Qatar, do not apply to this large migrant population and the monarchy does not allow for labor unions. These workers are subject to high amounts of abuse and are often forced to do certain things and have no choice due to lack of labor protection for this growing group of individuals.
(Trade Laborers use publicity on World Cup to voice their lack of rights)

·      While the Emir is busy with focusing on Qatar’s international influences, I think he should take another look at this potentially very dangerous problem.
What's Going to Happen?:
Currently, the population of Qatar rests are roughly 1.9 million. Now 1.2 million of this population is the migrant workforce... With the population being more than half migrant workers that lack labor protection and labor unions, this should be an extremely serious worry for Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The previous fact alone, should be enough of a reason for the Emir to take action immediately. High levels of diffusion are possible and with people publicly displaying their dissatisfaction with the lack of law for migrant laborers, collective sentiments and private preferences that were previously private, will soon be public. While violent uprising is unlikely due to the fact that the migrant workers have a lack of resources, non-violent protest is likely and could gain momentum very easily. The Emir of Qatar must reform it's migrant labor laws to accomodate to this extremely large portion of their population and reduce inequality. Instead of focusing and funneling so many funds into Al Jazeera, the Emir of Qatar needs to keep an eye on whats going on at home to keep their recent success and wealth in tact by providing more protection for the migrant population making up over 60% of their nation. While everyone praises Qatar for it's news network Al Jazeera and economic advancements, they should take a closer look at the countries migrant labor problem.

Stanley Reed. "Qatar Pushes for Larger Role on the Global Stage". NYTimes. Web. 2013.

BBC Country Profiles. Web. 2013.

Omar Chatriwala. "Global Peace Index: Qatar Ranks Highest in Arab World for 2012". Doha News. Web. 2012.

John Vidal. The Guardian. Web. 2013.

Lecture Notes from Michael Burch: 2/20, 2/13.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree that this is a problem that the Emir needs to take into consideration. As we have discussed in class last week, as well as today, the more economic equality a state has the more likely they are to experience conflict. Another problem Qatar could potentially face is do to their primary commodity export. The fact that Qatar is so dependent on oil for their economic growth means, according to Boix, that they are also at greater risk of seeing conflict erupt. While I don't think Qatar is in danger of this anytime in the near future, it could possibly create problems down the road.