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Sheikha Al Mayassa/Twitter

Sheikh Tamim meets little girl

Qatar’s Emir once again stole the hearts of his people after meeting a little girl who asked for him before undergoing a medical procedure.

According to a Snapchat video that went viral after being shared online by her mother, the girl anxiously asked “Wayn Sheikh Tamim” (where is Sheikh Tamim?) while being put under anesthesia.

A photo of the girl, now smiling and meeting the Emir, was later posted on social media by his siblings, Sheikh Joaan and Sheikha Al Mayassa.

The exact nature of the girl’s injury or why she asked for the Emir remain unclear.

But other photos and videos of the recent meeting have been circulating on Twitter.

Online reaction

Many have responded to the news by praising the Emir for caring about even Qatar’s smallest residents.

Thoughts?

Santiago Sanz Romero/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Children of Qatari mothers and non-Qatari fathers deserve citizenship, not just permanent residency status, an international rights group has said.

Human Rights Watch made the comment on the heels of a landmark announcement by Qatar to bolster expat rights.

This week, the Cabinet passed draft legislation that would give some foreigners the right to live in Qatar indefinitely, as well as enjoy free healthcare and education.

Xavier Bouchevreau/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Expats with special talents and the spouses and offspring of Qatari women and foreign fathers were among those who would be allowed to apply for the status.

But this just serves to highlight the gender bias that exists in Qatari law, said Rothna Begum, HRW’s Middle East women’s rights researcher.

In a statement this week, she said:

“Qatar needs to end discrimination against women and their children, but the proposal to grant the children residency and not nationality merely assigns them a second-class status.

Half-baked fixes to a serious problem of discrimination and family separation will only ensure that another generation of children with Qatari mothers will suffer inequality and discrimination.”

How it works

Currently, only children born to Qatari fathers are automatically granted Qatari citizenship, as is the practice across the Gulf.

There has been a push both at home and abroad to change the law, as it creates a hardship for children whose mothers are Qatari but whose fathers are not.

For example, these children are treated as foreigners and must periodically renew their residency permits.

MOI/Facebook

Qatar ID card

They are also unable to access the same privileges as nationals, such as free healthcare and education, subsidized food products and many government jobs.

Still, earlier this week, many people in this position breathed a sigh of relief following the permanent residency announcement.

The news has been hailed internationally as a “step in the right direction” for Qatar. The country is embroiled in a months-long Gulf dispute and hopes to retain top expat talent in the coming years.

But HRW’s Begum said the law does not go far enough.

“Qatar should allow children the right to acquire nationality on an equal basis from their mothers or their fathers. They could lead the way in correcting this discriminatory situation among Gulf countries,” she said.

Loyalty without a passport

Despite the criticism, many Qataris said they are still pleased with the new permanent residency status idea.

That includes Dr. Amal Al-Malki, who is a scholar on Arab women and is married to a non-Qatari.

Amal Al-Malki/Twitter

Dr. Amal Al-Malki, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at HBKU

Speaking to Doha News, she said the decision will be a boon to people born in Qatar who don’t have documentation, including Palestinians living in the state since the ’60s.

She continued:

“This also gives Qatari women who are married to non-Qataris a peace of mind. It is important that they have long term residency and the right to own property in Qatar.

I still would like to see how this will translate into actions and be handled. Officials will be surprised (with lack of statistics) of the number of half-Qataris!”

Al-Malki, who is also Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at HBKU, added that she doesn’t think half-Qataris like her children will be nationalized anytime soon.

But she also pointed out, “The current crisis taught us a very important thing. Loyalty is not a matter of passport or documents.”

Thoughts?

Via @_mahaalmarri

Locals tune into Emir’s speech

Twitter erupted with opinions last night following Sheikh Tamim’s first address to the nation about the Gulf dispute.

Many in Qatar responded enthusiastically to the Emir’s call to use the crisis as a wakeup call to step up and diversify the economy.

Reactions elsewhere

But in Saudi Arabia and other boycotting nations, the speech was less well-received.

The polarized reaction shows that even though the quartet has downscaled their demands and Qatar said it is willing to talk, much damage has already been done.

Many cultural taboos have been broken during the boycott, including the big one of not shaming or criticizing each other publicly.

The fallout of expelling Qatari students studying in neighboring countries and forcing families apart will also likely not be forgotten anytime soon.

If and when the dispute is resolved, Qatar will still be pursuing legal compensation for these actions.

As one Al Jazeera journalist said yesterday:

Thoughts?