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The laws set in place controlling the citizenship process are outdated, non-representative of views and values of the public and they shamefully do not reflect the reality.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