Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Population of Qatar

The following image made its rounds through social network circles a couple of weeks ago. I saw it a number of times, and even though it contains information I pretty much already knew, every time I saw it posted again, I found myself staring at it anew.

Click on it for a better view

I wrote an entire post about this image, but it got shelved. It felt... trite. And I'm still not entirely sure what I want to say about it. I could point out the fact that we're a part of that 7% minority, the "Other" category. And I could tell you how while I was prepared, upon our arrival, to face Qatari/Arab culture shock, I was in no way prepared for the vast numbers of people from India, the Philippines, Nepal, etc, etc. And I could tell you how I foolishly kept associating the term "expat" with "Western expat," wondering where they/we all were. Well, we're here, all 7% of us.

I could also tell you about how while we're "Other" here, we're still part of a very privileged other. An other blessed with choices, that came for adventure, for travel or career opportunities, because maybe jobs back home weren't that abundant or that good, or maybe we were just a little bored with the humdrum, same-old, same-old. An other that can spend vacation times travelling, that can afford dinners out and weekend fun. An other that for the most part, even with struggling home country economies, could probably still find a way to make it work "back home" in that massive expanse we call middle-class.

Or I could tell you about the Nepalis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Indians, etc, etc, ... most of whom comprise the "workers:" taxi drivers, nannies, store clerks, security guards, construction workers - so so many construction workers. Their sometimes questionable working and living conditions; their questionable rights. They have choices too, and they will tell you the 1000QR (or less) they make per month is still far more than they could ever make back home. And you'll see them standing in the Western Union lines come Thursday afternoon, sending every riyal they can afford back to their waiting families. Because they come without their families. They come for a better life, or at least for a better life for their children. And while they make their choices, there is no comparison to our choices. There is no "middle-class" lifestyle waiting for them back home.

Living here is definitely a multicultural, eye-opening experience. An opening to the way the rest of the world lives. It's a far cry from our very white and western Niagara upbringing. Even just a tiny peek into the world of all the workers from all these different cultures makes us think more carefully and appreciate more fondly the country we were born into and the comforts, even the small daily ones, we take for granted.


Barbara said...

Excellent post K. Living in the Middle East and SE Asia was eye-opening for us too. Encountering people who feel that others are not deserving of basic human rights because of where they come from or the kind of job they do was quite shocking for me. When you see others struggling to support their families back home where the economies and infrastructure don't provide a good standard of living for their population, including access to quality health care and education etc., you really appreciate the Canadian middle class! Canadians should be mindful about not letting our government take actions to erode the middle class and further suppress citizens into poverty.

Suzanne said...

So unbelievable. It really caught me off guard when I came to visit. Canada thinks it's multi-cultural, but we don't know the half of it. You live in a multi-cultural country, but it just isn't celebrated as such. Very interesting Kathy.

Erika said...

something you have to experience to fully understand; i'm sure! good musings.

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