This is my 15th year in Qatar. R & I came here as newly-weds in 1999. This is where we set up our first home. This is where my children were conceived, and where they are now growing up (12 and 4 years old).
This is NOT where they were born. Because this is NOT my home.
Because, this is NOT the place I can bring those who are most important to me, R, and the girls. I cannot bring my parents or parents-in-law here. Not without jumping through hoops, and standing outside the room of the ‘captain’ or using ‘wasta’. No… I can’t simply go through due process of applying for a visa and getting it.
They do NOT even accept our application, rejecting it before even casting an eye on form. “Over 65, no visa,” is the brusque response.
My Asian parents and parents-in-law are not welcome here, unless we grovel. And grovel, we will not. Because this is NOT my home…
After all this time, I am happy enough to consider this place as a temporary economic refugee, a place where I enjoy my work, a place as good or bad as most others to rear my family.
My mother has been here twice, once in 2003, at the age of 62, and again in 2006. It was easier then. My parents-in-law aged 76 and 67 have never been here. My mother-in-law retired as a teacher when she was 60, and was able to travel only after that for any length of time. But by then, she was too old to get a visit visa to Qatar.
It breaks my heart that they may never visit their only son and stay at his housee… because you see, this is NOT our home.
If it were, bringing our parents to be with us would be just a matter of booking a ticket. Not of bureaucratic and racist insults.
We don’t have ‘wasta’, we don’t have powerful sponsors who can call a number and get the visa stamped. And even if we did, neither R nor I are the kinds to circumvent legal procedures (call it ego, if you may).
Everyday there is a reminder that we are merely legal residents of the country. We are here, as the majority of other Asians, as workers. Our lives and well-being is not the country’s concern. Which is why Qatar is NOT my home.
Everyday I worry that I am doing wrong by my daughters, allowing them to believe that this is their home… how do I tell them that is just a place we live in, which is why their grandparents are not welcome here.
A common reason given is that older folks from poorer countries (Asia) might place a burden on the health system. There is a simple solution, if this argument has any merit… charge us a hefty health insurance fee, we would gladly pay that to be able to host our parents.
What other reason could you possible have for such prejudiced treatment of the majority of your residents?
That’s why Qatar will always remain a place I am fond of, that I’ve lived in… never the place I ever called home.
PS: I have a vested interest in the development of the country, as long as I, mine and those I care for live here (so, forever really)… But home, it will never be. Happy National Day!