Yousef Abu Ghaidah has lived in Qatar his whole life, and so has his father. His family has been here for decades, since his grandfather moved to the country in 1953.
But he’s not a Qatari citizen.
He would like to be, but said he understands that naturalization in the Gulf, especially in countries like the UAE and Qatar, where expats vastly outnumber locals, is a sensitive subject.
In the Emirates, the citizenship debate was reignited last month after prominent Emirati columnist Sultan Al Qassemi urged the UAE to establish a process by which expats can apply to be naturalized citizens.
His piece spurred a great deal of pushback, with many Emiratis expressing concerns about the threat that naturalization could pose on their national identities, as well as the economic and political stability of the country.
In a few blog posts about the subject this week, Abu Ghaidah opened up the citizenship debate here in Qatar.
The 24-year-old of Palestinian heritage, who said he wrote his posts in English to help other expats understand his perspective, acknowledged many of the concerns felt among locals, saying:
“Naturalization, whether you like it or not, is a risk to national security. It is an even bigger risk when the country’s local-to-expat gap is huge, and I believe I have read reports that highlight Qatar’s gap being the largest in the world. By giving individuals full citizenship rights, these individuals are, by law, an integral part of Qatari society.
So, what happens when down the line, these individuals (and/or their descendants) call for change based on ideas that go against Qatar’s political stability? What happens when these individuals will divide the Qatari populace by promoting sub-cultures? This has happened before in other states within region.” see more