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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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How to get a Qatari citizenship? Not even if your mother were a Qatari, but play a sport and you stand a chance

How to get a Qatari citizenship? Not even if your mother were a Qatari, but play a sport and you stand a chance

Citizenship within the GCC is a complicated issue with layers upon layers of inequality, injustice and fear governing the laws and processes set in place. A few weeks ago, UAE’s Sultan Al Qassemi wrote an article urging the UAE government to grant expatriates the right to obtain an Emirati citizenship. It is of vital importance to revisit what this means in the context of Qatar.

In his article Al Qassemi calls for a systematic and clear process that aims to open the doors for expatriates living in the UAE to acquire an Emirati citizenship. He writes, “Perhaps it is time to consider a path to citizenship for them that will open the door to entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and other hardworking individuals who have come to support and care for the country as though it was their own.”

Expatriates living in Qatar face the same issue… well, to some degree. If you’re an athlete playing for one of Qatar’s local teams, then you’ve got it made, son! You have a right to the Qatari citizenship no questions asked. It doesn’t matter whether or not you know the first thing about Qatar.

On the other hand, Yousef Abu Ghaida, a Palestinian blogger living in Qatar points out in response, “The fact of the matter is, Qatar is not an immigrants-based society. Many people keep referring to countries of the West and their naturalisation laws, and then compare it to Qatar. Qatar isn’t a cultural melting pot like those states in the West.”

He adds, “It’s not that easy – naturalisation, whether you like it or not, is a risk to national security.”

Well, we don’t have to worry in a hurry. Personally, I think Qatar is a long way from even considering the possibility of granting expats the Qatari citizenship.

The laws set in place controlling the citizenship process are outdated, non-representative of views and values of the public and they shamefully do not reflect the reality.

What about the offspring of Qatari mothers?

Before getting ahead of ourselves and preaching about an expat’s right to citizenship, what about the rights of children born to Qatari mothers? Unlike the UAE, where a standardised process has been set in place, Qatari women married to non-Qatari men have to jump through hoops to get citizenship for their children, only to be rejected or turned away without any justification.

In reference to restrictions on the transference of citizenship to children of Qatari mothers and non-Qatari fathers, in the initial report submitted to the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW) Qatar claims, “Under the Qatari Nationality Act, nationality is granted on the basis of blood ties, i.e. based on the nationality of the father. Qatari women with foreign husbands do not have the right to transmit their nationality to their children. This is to prevent people from holding dual citizenship.”

Yet, there is an application process in place. However, this process is very much like a black hole. There are countless cases of children born to Qatari mothers and non-Qatari fathers who apply for the citizenship but are told to ‘wait’ and re-apply year after year after year until it is ‘their turn’.  This is not a question of lineage or ‘blood ties’ as the state refers to it; this is a matter of civil rights. Every citizen regardless of gender, should and must have the same rights in regards to the transferring and acquisition of citizenship to their children and/or spouses.

The laws set in place controlling the citizenship process are outdated, non-representative of views and values of the public and they shamefully do not reflect the reality. Fortunately, Qatar is continuously making changes and advancements for the better. Hopefully, this is one of the areas where we see a significant change in the legal framework.


  1. Alanood Al-Thani

    Citizenship is a complex issue and I applaud you for speaking out on such a controversial topic. However, I would like to clarify that in fact athletes in the past have gotten and kept their citizenship. Now, this is not the case: Qatari-Athletes are given a Qatari passport to use only when traveling for competitions and training only. It is a temporary passport which is revoked after the athletes stops competing for Qatar. They athletes rarely receive Qatari benefits as their passports is kept with officials and used only for competing and training, they use their other passport for traveling and identification purposes. Hence, temporarily on paper they are dual-citizens but in reality they are only receiving the benefits of their original passport and they are not-Qatari.

    • SHAZ


  2. Christina

    A great op-ed, Nofe! Looking forward to reading more of your columns 🙂

  3. Thank you Nofe for tackling this issue, It reminded me of the piece nasser wrote about tribalism. I imagine what that audience would say!!!

    Also I would recommend reading a peice by Hamad Mijaigher :

    I really think Qatar needs to increase its population especially with those who are truly loyal to Doha like son’s of Qatari’s or even those born in Doha. I wish something happens in that field soon.

    lastly, I’m not even against giving athletes the nationality. In recent years politicians and researchers have been given the Qatar nationality. I only wish it was systematic.

  4. Mother of Qatari child

    What about children left behind by Qatari students who studied abroad, had relations which produced a child. The students go back home like nothing happened, leaving the children to be raised mostly by non-Muslim women. There is a site: that tells the children’s stories. The only reason Adam Jones is getting any attention is because his father married his mother when she found out she was pregnant and after he died his family took the boy because he is the only heir. Yes, it’s a touchy taboo subject but everyone should know about them and stop them from studying abroad if they can’t take care of their offspring.

    • Bu Nasser

      Do not blame students, blame yourself why you were bitching around with him

      • Moosa

        What do you mean, “blame yourself for bitching around with him”? Many times a man from the Middle East will go to the West, have “fun” with women, make all kinds of dishonest promises to a woman, and then leave her with his child and forget his child. Such a man sees his child as nothing more important than sperm. This is despicable. Even animals care more for their children.

        • dino

          that is true I was born and raised here im 24 years old I was married to a Qatar man who married me in sudan , he married me abroad we came back stayed married for two years kept promising me children and a lot of fantasy things. he divorced me and ripped the marriage contracts, after giving me an abortion.

  5. Aisha Majid

    Well what about those families that have been living in Qatar for more than 50 years, their children are born there but they are still considered non Qataris? They have contributed so much to the economy of Qatar, have barely any ties with their past countries and talk, act like Qataris without the benefits of being one?? surely they have some right to the citizenship.

  6. ahmed

    i want to ask a question if one pakistani is working regullerly in qatar army as a soldger is it possible he can get qatar nationality.and how it is possible

  7. abdulkarim saleh

    Indeed ,my dad came to qatar 1973 and we still living here in qatar i get married and also my boys born here played in qatar basketball teams and also working here so from a to z this tpoic its really important to us who really lived in qatar for long time more than 40 years you are super star nofe !

  8. Abdul Rehman

    I appreciate Nofe Al Suwaidi. Being a responsible citizen and author she has highlighted a very critical topic. I believe that there is still a need to make an amendment to the laws, legal process and system to ease process of naturalization. The existence of expatriates in the region is obviously supportive and addition to the region’s economic prosperity. We must have a more open discussion about the future of people that choose to call Qatar as second home. Perhaps it is time to help and consider a path to citizenship for expats that will open the door to engineers, doctors, banker’s entrepreneurs, scientists, artist, academics, diplomats and other hardworking individuals who have come to support and care for the country as though it was their own.
    This will prove a positive step in developing the strategic growth inside Qatar and rest of GCC countries too. Benefits such as education, employment and social benefits will undoubtedly improve the conditions of many and help them to follow their way through life. Some locals are apprehensive about it, and some residents welcome it. The possibility of naturalizing certain long-term Qatari residents is not without its sceptics and advocates.

    My grandparents has been one of the contributing to the growth of the Qatar since at the age of 22 in 1947 arrived and he worked with QPC Qatar Petroleum Co mechanical engineer arrived and died in 1976 in the Qatar. Few of my aunts are married to well repute Qatari families; they did their education from Qatari schools, it’s our 3rd generation in Qatar. We are all assimilating to culture, traditions and life style here in the Qatar. However, we are still waiting to be naturalized we have already applied for nationality at Ministry of Interior back in 1997 and yet there is no clear mechanism to determine the outcome of each case. We have put our lives on hold and had waited years for citizenship.

    We supplicate Almighty Allah for your healthy long life and success and prosperity for Qatar and its people. Allah provides us with best of Health enough to be fit, Wealth enough to support our needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful to others. Faith enough to make real the things in life

  9. Reality

    Arabs are hypocrates. Like this scum “bu nasser” who has camel dung for a brain. People like him always try excuses to blame others and not see their own wrongdoings. Even pigs arent so selfish than these so called “Arabs” from GCC countries who have no dignity or honor so to speak. These illeterate piece of junk are a shame on humanity.

  10. Al Hashmei

    A very interesting yet taboo topic. Reluctantly though, my views will concur with the mass of locals that prefer to obstruct the citizenship of expats who come, live and work here along with enjoying the local hospitality. A hired help on 365 days “One Day Contract”.
    Saying that, a “Notional Token” of appreciation for those living here in GCC for decades is not an insane idea. This could be in the form of job security, benefits for visa transfers or something similar which offers some certainty to these individuals and their families for a safer future. I don’t think giving out nationalities at wholesale rates is the only way forward.
    Another aspect to note here is the financial gains these western countries make out of their immigration policies. The UK border agency is one of the MOST IMPORTANT CASH COWs for the government in generating revenues through visa, passport and naturalisation/nationality streams. its a BIG BUSINESS. Majority of the GCC countries are resource rich and hence the pennies don’t interest them.
    One caveat I do have is the Arab decedents, who can prove their lineage but were born elsewhere in the world should be given granted un-restricted access to revisit their heritage and ancestral home.

  11. Moosa

    I’m not sure I agree ethically and morally with many of the “perks” of Qatari nationality. I’m British and married to a national of the Gulf, we live together in London. I prefer to live in a country where I’m paying taxes which then build and sustain the country, rather than receiving everything gratis including scholarships to study abroad and free healthcare in the top international hospitals. The end result in Qatar and other Gulf countries is almost inevitably that the citizens of such countries will become lazy and non-productive, in fact this would be my main concern if I were to move to the Gulf and bring up my children there. I have met many highly-intelligent and talented arabs, but I think the main reason why even the wealthy Gulf arab countries are not productive in science and technology is that the political and economic system in these countries foments slothfulness.

  12. NEXT

    great discussion

  13. vikas

    if a person comes qatar from india and respect the religion of qatar than would he gets a qatari citizenship

  14. Mustafa El Muhajer

    Great discussion,

    I would like to add something that I have heard from a Qatari official early in 2011.

    That if you are an Arab of a GCC country or neighbouring countries such as Yemen or even Somalia it will make the process of naturalisation much easier, simply because the cultural similarities and the person can be easily identified.i.e a person from these nations can be known by their surname, tribe name etc.

    Also that the decision is based on your profile if you are a post graduate and can add value to the country.

    And finally at any point you can’t be related to Persia. With all due respect.

    I hope this info helps.

  15. Jackie

    I am British lady married to a qatari man for 28 years we have 5 children from 24 to 10 years old I have lived in Qatar for 17 years I also work here but my problem is I’m trying to get qatari passport but still haven’t heard anything I have given all required papers and they said they will call … That was 7 years ago when I applied the 5 years has passed but I want to know what is taking so long

  16. Javier Fernandez

    Thank you so much for the post.

  17. Maqbool

    My grandfather living long time in Qatar I think 60 years ago in Qatar and my father born in Qatar and also working long time here in Qatar my all family living long time here in Qatar also my two brothers working in Qatar army. But problem is we are don’t have a qatari passport and how to got a qatari passport.. please help

  18. A

    im one of the Qatari women sons i decided to leave the country i have no rights in geting a job or getting married im 30 years old im in the united states rencently the worset feeling in life that you live as freek in your country between your family and friends any ways i feel happy here coz i know my self that im that im not from here (us) at the end every country has a negitive laws their is no country 100% perfect
    best regards
    to my country State of Qatar❤️

  19. muhammad imran ashiq

    i was born in qatar 1985 i have all records can any body tell me how i apply for my own country qater.know i am in pakistan

  20. I have been here for 2 years and i can be a citizen of Qatar. Im Kenyan.
    Which way being citizen?

    • Samuel Mugo

      Am also a Kenyan and want to be a Qatar citizen…how do.I go about

  21. Saba Al-Yafie

    I hoped if there is some benefits for people who lived in Qatar for 3 generations like in my situation. My father’s grandfather lived in Qatar then my grandfather lived here for 55 years and my mother also and her brothers in Qatar and me I think we are here for 4 generations not 3!

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