I grew up in Qatar, my parents been here since 1978, and I’ve been hearing their stories about the 80’s here in Qatar. The following is some of their experience and mine.
There are about four different classes of people in Qatar, and not like some other countries, they are not basically categorized by their social or financial statement, but by origin.
Qatar is the country where people ask you where are you from before what’s your name.
Of course you would think that on top of the list or the class ladder, would be Qataris? It’s their country after all. They get special treatment, for examples they don’t get fired from their jobs in places like (Hint: a well known media channel).
But they are not! Americans are. Yes Americans, especially US soldiers. Not even Qataris can use their special treatment on them, for example, if a Qatari person got into a fight with an American and both went to the police, (unless the American was drunk) the authorities would let him loose and try to end it smoothly. That would not be the case if the other person were from “another class”.
I would say a tie between those two on number one.
Second but not too far away would be the rest of GCC, especially Saudis and Emiratis. They get similar treatment as Qataris, not their privileges of course; they have those where they came from.
Third, would be Europeans, Canadian and other Foreigners who basically have blonde hair and blue eyes and don’t speak Arabic. They do whatever they like, but they get a firm treatment if they break a law. The “weaker” your country is, the less “Class” you are. All European countries are not the same of course.
Fourth, would be Arabs with high or medium level jobs. Managers and other similar jobs, they have contacts, they usually earn respect of others. The authorities treat them with respect, so do the residents.
Asians would be fifth. Where ever from Asia, doesn’t matter much, they get treated badly. Especially Indians, Nepalese, Philippines, Pakistan and its neighbors. They are always wrong to authorities, and they are the easiest to deport. Their countries never step in, so they don’t mind mistreat them here.
Last, like most places but a bit to an extreme, are workers. No matter where they are from, labors get treated like slaves here. It’s the issue of the decade in Qatar, till 2022 World cup it will stay the main issue for human rights organizations.
The sponsorship allows their companies to make them work whenever they want, and the workers don’t report it, and sometimes they do, but it gets ignored.
Two things matter in “Classing” or actually discriminating citizens, how weak your country is, mostly economically and politically; if they never took a stand for their people, then you are on the bottom of the ladder. And if Qatar has problems with your country, they close visas or let those people go, in a political statement.
Then later comes money, your economical level. For example, A mid-level American wouldn’t get treated the same as a Soldier or a manager.
It’s sad that this country is like this, and I can tell you, it was worse, a lot of people, especially Qataris changed, and got less prejudice. The country is trying to get better, but as long as the country uses the sponsorship model, many people will abuse the power in their hands, and this act will never go away.