The number of expatriates exceeds the population of Qatari citizens exponentially, and the ratio remains the same in any place visited within the country. Citizens find themselves outnumbered in several situations, whether it is in clinics or schools. While these services are supposed to be directed by the state to its citizens, most Qataris do not enjoy these benefits because of over-crowding, and, of course, these public services are to be provided in equality to all, citizens and foreigners. Thus, the citizen does not truly feel the benefits or privileges of citizenship. Rather than waiting in long queues for public services, Qataris decide to purchase private healthcare or education, which negates the privileges allocated to each citizen.
This is certainly not an invitation for racism. As Qataris, we are proud that our country is among the most generous in the world, welcoming of incoming people, and respectful of others. These are not new ideals, as our elders appreciated simplicity and humility, not differentiating between the servants or workers, sharing with them food, clothing, and housing. Our elders had mercy in their hearts, and valued modesty, which broke barriers and enhanced solidarity with other people.
We as citizens do not want preferential treatment to others, even if it is our country, but we demand to truly enjoy the rights guaranteed to us in our Constitution, and not be denied them. That is what is happening now, as Qataris flee from the health centres that state spends millions on, going instead to private clinics. Crowds of both expatriates and citizens wait for hours for their turn to see doctors in public clinics, such as in Al Sadd Children’s Emergency Hospital.
As for outpatient clinics, people cannot make appointments for months, and must wait to be seen by a doctor. In the maternity hospital, where the hour of delivery is unpredictable, patients reserve rooms at private clinics because the state does not provide private rooms which are culturally suitable for patients.
The pressure on public health services is further worsened by patients that come from outside of the country for treatment. That indicates the generosity of this country, and is a commendable humanitarian step, as all human beings deserve health care and appropriate treatment, regardless of their nationality or circumstances. However, it should not reach a degree where the rights of citizens are hindered.
When the situation is as disturbing as it is, resulting in people fleeing from public clinics to give birth in private hospitals, it is our right to suspect whether such policies are intended to benefit private clinics.
All people are our brothers and sisters in humanity, and pain does not differentiate between nationalities. We feel the suffering of our compatriots, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
The state should broaden its capacity to provide equal high-quality services in healthcare, education, and the like for all. No one, neither Qataris nor expatriates, should be left to pay a fee for private clinics as long as the state provides suitable services. As the state grows, swells, and expands, services and facilities must accelerate at the same pace and match absorption capacity.
A potential solution is to allocate hospitals dedicated to expatriate industrial labourers.
Gratitude must be expressed toward these workers who give their health and energy to the State. Thanks to those driving construction trucks on the road, waiting in long queues, who we see on the right lanes of streets, coming from Samrah and Abu Hamour, or heading to the north or the south, in the most remote corners of the country. They are the driving force behind buildings and cities, tunnels, bridges, creating our young aspirations, working in the middle of the night in the streets. We see them in the streets, waiting to cross, braving the sun and heat at the height of summer, and through the cold wind and rain threatening their homes in the winter.
Thanks to those who work in large-scale projects dealing with risky work, and are exposed to sun stroke or death by suffocation within the tunnels, exposure to chemical gases. Thanks to those who are giving us their lives for little in return. Some say: giving them wages is a sufficient form of gratitude. Yet it is not. The wages are merely a few hundreds of riyals, and are barely given completely or on time.
Qatar’s government is charitable, donating for construction, reconstruction, and other assistance abroad, and while it is commendable to be humanitarian, we should also encourage these charities running campaigns to build schools, hospitals, and clinics for residents within the State.
Qatar is not only for its citizens. Qatar is for those who made their fingerprints into its development through their efforts.
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