Archive for May, 2010

Why Qatar needs taxes

I’m not going insane. It’s something I’ve always wanted to talk about and a commenter on the “Qataris are Rich – The Myth” post had touched on taxes and brought this back on my mind.

I don’t want to be taxed like crazy (like how the UK does to its people) but maybe a slight tax would be a good thing. (I’m talking about income tax and none of that VAT stupidity!)

Imagine if Qatar taxed citizens 1-2% of their salary for example.

1) That should be enough to beautify the country, parks, water systems, lights, etc…

2) People would demand that the country does something with their tax money

3) People would start conciously thinking of their financial status

The government should also provide tax breaks.

1) If you build a garden or put grass outside of your house, you get a 50% tax break (this forces people to beautify Qatar to avoid paying tax)

2) If your organization (or even your household) does something charitable, you get a tax break

If you think about it, Qatar is the ‘perfect’ country to have tax.

1) The taxes aren’t ‘needed’ by the government, which means that it should remain stable.

2) The tax money they generate would be considered a ‘bonus’

Who can give me their views on tax?  Good? Bad? If you think it’s good, explain why? Remember, don’t just think of the economic impact, think of society, psychology, bureaucracy, etc..

ILQ/QL gathering – Thanks “Smoke”

So one of ILQ’s forum users “Smoke” organized a nice little ‘Quiz night’ yesterday.

I thought I’d share a few photos of the crowd. People also won some nicely packed ILQ goodie bags!

Click here for more!

Qataris are all rich – the myth

It’s time to bust a few myths. I’m so sick and tired of expats assuming that qataris are all rich clones.

Few things I always hear, “oh but Qataris get so many benefits”, or “qataris have super high salaries”.

Where do people get these facts? Did they just see a couple of Al Fardans or Al Thanis and assume that we are all of the same economical background?

40% of Qataris can be considered to be in extreme debt. This means that 70%+ of your salary goes towards repaying loans. Why do they have loans? 1) because they try to keep up the image of being as rich as the 5% of the actually rich population. Or 2) they don’t really have the salaries that expats think.

Graduates start off with a salary of 15k depending on the job. Those without a degree have salaries as low as 5k.
15k sounds pretty good right? Well then you haven’t lived in Qatar. Half your salary goes straight to accommodation, a huge amount to support family, another huge amount to bills (qtel comes to mind as a wallet sucker) and the list goes on.

Oh but what about the land? Free utilities? The salary you get from the government? You get the land after you graduate and get a degree. You are placed on a waiting list. You can’t choose where the land is. You can’t build and sell the property because its not yours until they say it is, yep the government can take it away.

Utilities? I get free water and electricity (capped) once I get married. If I’m single then no. How much do I save? Nothing because I’m not married yet and pay bills, but once I do, I’ll save 300 qr.

Free salary???? Are people insane? No Qatari gets a free salary, unless they’re from the royal family or something. We have a pensions system though just like the UK or US.

What about the education system, its so cheap for qataris! When I was in UK my tuition cost 10k and i’m talking pounds! British students paid 1,300. Countries took care of their citizens. I got that.

What about the almost free medical system? Guess what! Mexico has a better health care system than the US and medicine is dirt cheap too!

Let’s put this all together now.
Ok I graduated and got a job. Let’s say that its 18k a month. I live in my family’s house to save some cash. I decide to get married finally. I go to my love’s family and I’m asked where I’m going to house her. Oh… Um well Ill get an apartment. It’s not the norm but lets say they agree. I put her in a fully furnished apartment in ZigZag which costs 8k. Alright got 10k left. Now I have to give my wife her monthly salary. It’s 2k. Ok got 8k left. Now it’s time to pay bills. Phone, Internet, petrol, installments for a car, and a bit here and there. Let’s assume it’s 4k. Ok I have 4k left to cover groceries, home insurance, some entertainment, general shopping, etc…

Do you see where I’m going here? In this scenario, life is pretty ok isn’t it? But have I demonstrated that I’m a rich Qatari? It’s all relative. (I’m still quite a lucky person in life to be born a Qatari of course. Something I definitely appreciate).

Seems to me that people should be going back to their awesome democratic countries and demand more from their governments than getting all anal about how ‘great’ a Qataris life is.

So at the end of the day, separate fact from fiction. I’m off to bed under my silk sheets. Oh! Need to brush my teeth with my diamond encrusted toothbrush first.. almost forgot.

Night night.

I envy Bahrainis

If there’s one Arabic country that I have to choose as a country which I respect, it’s Bahrain. I love that country and its people. Quite recently it was ranked internationally as the world’s most friendliest country. I definately agree.

Put simply, if someone were to ask me why I love Bahrain, my list would be a page long. However in the interest of not boring you to death, I’ll list what makes them a great nation and a reason for why they turned out quite different from Qataris.

1) Bahrainis run their own country. No this isn’t a locals vs. expats comment. I feel that if all the expats left Bahrain, they’d be able to survive. You see Bahrainis working as taxi drivers, throughout the business hierarchical chain, and at your local cold store. There’s isn’t an exclusive dependancy on foreigners. Lets face it. If the expats dropped everything and moved out of Qatar, things would pretty much come to a stand-still.

2) Bahrainis work hard and they don’t act like anything is beneath them. You see them working at petrol stations or as security guards in the malls. This touches upon point one, but the reason for their motivation is because they’re hard workers. It’s obvious to me that the government recognizes this because Bahrainis are considered the ‘Golden Expat’ by Qatari companies. (The fact that they’re from the GCC, similar values to Qataris, and are hard workers).

3) They’re incredibly smart. The average Bahraini is very intelligent. They definitely have the entrepreneurial spirit. It all comes down to their education. Qatar only quite recently started putting an emphasis on education with, well… , with Education City. There’s been major changes in the government schooling as well, however Bahrain has a 20 year lead. One of the reasons why I moved to Qatar was because my family wanted a better education for me. I studied at a private school and ended up with an I.B. Diploma.

So why are they like this? They’re poorer. Seems a bit simplistic doesn’t it? Hear me out. As Qataris, we’re given quite a lot of opportunity. I’m priveledged and I’m trying to make the most of the fortunauate position that God put me in. However it seems that people have grown up where they think that government support (in its current form) is their ‘right’. Many people became too rich, too fast, and they forgot about the basics. The basics of raising their own kids, the basics of Islam (peace, respects and tolerance), and probably more importantly, they forgot how hard it was for Qataris two generations ago and aren’t greatful for that. This mentality has spread across to even the poorer Qataris.

If you’re the government of a poorer nation, you have to become more business centric. That’s why the market is open for advertisers (street ads) in Bahrain and we’ve got one company (QMedia) that has an unexplainable monopoly.

4) They don’t receive as much in terms of state support. The cost of living is lower and salaries are lower. So Bahrainis compete. They are forced to survive on their intellect. They are forced to be reasonable. They are forced to be more down to earth.

5) They’re forward thinkers. Their mentality is quite different. Their more open to the idea of being progressive. Qataris are getting there. My friends and the younger generation of Qataris are all working so very hard to prove that we’re not the lazy stereotype that people imagine.

Bahrain isn’t the best country in the world. They’ve got issues. Qatar also has some major pluses too! (The support for media freedom, a progressive Emir,  our strong Shaikha Moza, and of course, the fact that its a country that has so much opportunity come to mind). I just feel that I wish we learned a bit more from Bahrainis, thats all.

You want an ideal Arabic nation? Qatar’s wealth, opportunity, and leadership + Bahrainis mentality + Kuwait’s business focus + Emirates marketing team = the country I wish I could create.

Qatar’s still got a great shot at being something amazing! That’s why I (heart) Qatar :) Can’t wait for the bridge to be built. Lets see if they rub off on us.

at unplugged – fifth al jazeera forum

So I’m sitting at Al Jazeera’s fifth forum right now. The event is called unplugged. I’ve seen quite a number of people speak on stage but I still haven’t seen the real juicy stuff.

We talk about the importance of Internet freedom and how social media can affect public opinion or bring us information at record seeds, but aren’t they preaching to the quire?

Anyway, it’s a discussion which is a step forward in the right direction.

For my tweets, follow http://Twitter.com/iloveqatar

Think before you post online

There’s been a lot of talk about Facebook and how irresponsible they’re being when it comes to giving their users power over how they can control what’s shared or seen. To be honest, I’d like to think that I’m quite tech-savvy, and getting through Facebook’s control panel, Help, or Forums, is like going through a MAZE.

Nothing is clear and despite clear warnings by government officials and the general public around the world, Facebook seems to just ignore what’s right for people. Yes, they implement some security features here and there, but the fact of the matter is, it isn’t enough.

It’s not only the responsibility of FB though. Parents need to monitor their children and adults need to be weary about what they post online. What’s scary is that even if you don’t post a picture, you know that someone else is going to post something and tag you eventually.

Here are a couple of great videos, I’d love to create a Qatarized/Arabized version. If you need more tips and advice, ictQatar is here to help and be there for you! (probably the only authority that actively engages with the public so openly!)

How did Qataris keep clean back in the day?

I was sent email about a fantastic article by Qatar Visitor about a question which they asked themselves. Qataris are known for being well groomed, so how did they take care of themselves back in the day before the skyscrapers, lambos, and super shopping malls?

Here’s a snippit:

“Back in the days before oil, Qataris made clever use of nature to aide them in keeping clean. They made soap out of the leaves of lotus trees, which they would dry and grind and mix with water to wash themselves with. They also used a soap-like substance called dhiyya, which was made of fats. Dhiyya was also used to wash clothes.”

Read more on what they had to say http://www.qatarvisitor.com/index.php?cID=412&pID=1665#ixzz0nekAxyFx It’s a very good read!

Camel Balls

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t buy these sweets in Qatar.

ILQ’s Facebook group hits 2,750 members!

Another very exciting milestone coming up, we’re about to hit 3,000 members of the ILQ Facebook group!

Help us get as many members as possible and more importantly, join a fantastic group where a fantastic community is brewing :)

Join our group now! Click here

update: 8/5/2010 – We’re now 3,010 members!

update: 23/5/2010 – Almost 3,510 members!

Qatar 2022′s first five stadiums!

Here’s something exciting! First glimpse of Qatar’s first five stadiums for the 2022 World Cup!

So? Going to help us win the bid? Visit Qatar2022.com for more!

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.