Thursday, January 08, 2015

Qatar's promise for future

Qatar’s Promise
Having moved to Doha some time back, I have been trying to observe and understand this new land and the dynamics and cultures of people who live here. While one can definitely encounter people fitting various stereotypes, but my personal experience so far is that there are far too many of the exceptions for each of those stereotypes that generalizing the group traits is certainly an exercise in futility. Easiest claim to make would be that all groups and communities here have quite similar distribution of various behavioral traits and beliefs as most of the world would. Again, opinions can always vary because an American might be tempted to say that s/he doesn’t see much of amalgamation of cultures happening here. At the same time, as an Indian I could argue that I see so many commonalities in the culture and even language, that I cannot refuse that as evidence for amalgamation of cultures.

While it is tempting for many to accept preconceived notions (based on hearsay from the people in their social networks) about Qatari youth as over-indulged brats from a conservative society, willingness to look at Qatar with an open mind gives a different picture.

It probably is hard for the some people to be able to relate to the pace of change and values of the cultures not like theirs. What is most interesting to me is that people here are trying really well to push the boundaries in many different ways in an organic/natural manner. That is, they are doing so without losing a touch from their heritage or destabilizing the peace and prosperity they have. Don’t believe me, but just go watch any sci-fi or other American movie in theaters here and count the number of Burqa clad women in the theater. Some (often from the West), who perceive themselves as liberated ones do not seem to be realizing that there could be something wrong (not everything) in their ways too, which other cultures maybe doing rightly. Cultures and beliefs always everywhere keep evolving at different paces in different places depending on the ideas which can be called the zeitgeist at that place and time. Often these ideas are technological and hence driven currently by the technologically more advanced nations/civilizations of West, but these ideas could also be spiritual or based on other beliefs or experiences of the communities.

The above discussion could be considered valid for many other countries and cultures too; so it probably would make more sense now to focus on the aspects which are unique for Qatar. Without doubt, the range of opportunities (as an outcome of diversity of the economy and size of market) is increasing slowly in terms of pace (though not acceleration which depends on investment) in Qatar relative to places like Dubai. This often gets reflected as decreased incentive to nurture innovation and inflow of entrepreneurial migrants with ideas and capacity to compete in most countries. But Qatar seems to be opening up steadily without creating destructive waves to achieve its national vision for 2030 – which was drafted by the youngest sovereign and the current Emir himself when he was the Crown Prince. In fact, his authorship of the Qatar National Vision 2030 [1]document clearly conveys that the leadership and institutions of the country are fully committed to realize that vision.

In the past two decades, Qatar’s leadership – through its continuous efforts – has ensured that the natural endowment it has doesn’t turn into a resource curse, as has been the case in some of the African countries. Qatar’s investments – made with long term horizons in mind – in areas like education and research have now started showing promise. The leadership has also been making sincere efforts to build and maintain trust of subsequent generations of citizens in the institutions being created, which seems to be working well – something which can’t be said for the millennials in most other countries where youth and teenagers just can’t relate to the institutions there. Youth of Qatar feels that they are getting a fair shot and that's what you need in a country to make its citizen's to believe in and work towards building a strong future.

It is normal for some youth will be interested in fast cars or other such materialistic pleasures. In fact that is the case everywhere in the world – i.e. in both rich and poor countries. And while some may say that higher levels of faith in religion is a harmful thing, Islam – more so if not just as much as other religions – makes its believers to prize austere ways of life, having compassion and value the fulfilling pursuits like those of knowledge and spirituality. The western ideas of extreme materialism and consumerism are not approved by the devout Muslims. Ethos of Islam value experiences, knowledge and greater common good much more than the things one can buy. Qatar is rated as one of the most peaceful countries [2]in the world and the compassionate faith of people is definitely one of the big reasons for that.

All this leads me to a simple hypothesis:- Qatar and its citizens have a unique opportunity to change the world in ways which other countries can’t. Citizens of Qatar don’t have to worry about the basic necessities of life and/or even some luxuries. Such a situation, combined with the peaceful and conducive environment to aspire along with the examples/ role models set by the Qatar’s leadership, is a perfect hotbed for the youth to become ambitious and do things that can both change the world and change world’s perception of this dot on the globe.

When people’s faith prizes austerity and they don’t have to worry about basic necessities, the human instinct to find a purpose for the life would lead to development of passion and excellence in different areas among such people. Given the interconnectedness of today’s world, it is fair to say that many will get attracted to working towards tackling the great challenges our world faces today. So is the human nature, everywhere.

Qatar’s leadership is already a role model for the people here through their pioneering and ambitious initiatives in areas like research, education, sports, culture, and their efforts at geopolitical level on different fronts and initiatives like Educate A Child[3] or Silatech [4] to show their commitment to global and regional causes.

Some may claim that a lot more can be done or should be done – which as per the newspapers here is also in the pipeline. Everywhere, regardless of what earlier generations think off or say, some youngsters make bad choices, a large number make safe but pragmatically good choices and some gamble it all on the good choices they make. Add to this the Qatar’s nurturing environment as explained above, and it won’t be too much to hope that Qatar and its people will rise up to opportunity they have and make their contributions to the history at different levels and in different places or fields.

No comments: