Sep
21

Contemporary Qatar

Edited books are challenging to summarize, this post surveys some of the chapters and key points that stood out to me in this new collection, Contemporary Qatar (2021), edited by Zweiri and Al Qawasmi.

Ch 1 outlines the challenges experienced by the new state, often driven by external actors but which slowed the process of state building, which included the oil embargo (1973/4), oil crisis (1979), Iranian revolution (1979), Egypt-Israel peace treaty (1979), Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), GCC (1981), invasion of Kuwait, Gulf War (1990/1), Soviet collapse (1991), Jordan-Israel peace treaty (1994), failed coup (1996). The resources that Qatar holds today, largely LNG, were not a certain investment in the 1990s, when prices were low, but paid off in the long run. LNG development began in 1991, with the first export in 1997, the economic benefits of this enabled economic diversification in the 2000s, and beyond. The authors also note the niche areas of diplomacy that develop: (1) peace diplomacy / conflict resolution in Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Eritrea; (2) higher education, with Education City, (3) Media  with Al Jazeera Media Network from 1996, and (4) Sport via 2008 Asian Games, 2011 Pan Arab Games, to FIFA and beyond.

Ch 2 is historical, and there are several book length efforts on this. I'll leave the summary as I have done that for the other books. Ch 3 on governance highlights unique directions of Qatar for the region, and what consequences this had - namely supporting a generation of young leaders and expanding freedoms, which created some tensions in the region with other nations whose leaders did not share this vision. Ch 4 covers political participation - there is much said about the 2021 elections, but municipal elections have been on-going since 1999; the author shows a relatively low voter registration, variable voter turn out, and declining candidates. This chapter is quite quantitative. There appears to be a need to delve into the qualitative aspects of why.

Ch 5 covers foreign policy (also covered by Kamrava, I'll avoid repetition here). Ch 6 explores the peace diplomacy, drawing on first hand experiences, and outlines the cases of Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan, Djibouti, Palestine, and Afghanistan. Some unique contributions in this chapter for those interested. Ch 7 offers a detailed case study on foreign relations with Palestine while Ch 8 outlines the expansion of military capacity and capability following the 2017 blockade of Qatar. Ch 9 broadens the conversation on sport in Qatar, moving beyond its international and tourism purposes, but also its cultural and bottom-up social drivers. Ch 10 re-orients the rentier framing of Qatar to one in the political realm, as a developmental state; this seems a useful re-conceptualization, as far too often broad generalizations are made of groups of states, which may not hold. Ch 11 covers the geopolitical of gas, specifically in relation to the US shale gas market and Qatar's LNG. 

Ch 12 is one of the few in this collection that address domestic social issues, it focusing on national identity. The drivers resonate with many other chapters (economic, education, big projects, blockade), what is unique about this chapter is that the author presents recommendations on how the emerging national identity issues could be address, which include: (1) cultural criteria for immigrants (in a country where the majority are not citizens); (2) a labour market shift that focuses upon the longer term / multi-generational migrants who are 'local' as opposed to revolving shifts of foreign workers; (3) strengthen public schools via state investment and training with an aim to increase their appeal and phase out coupon system currently in place for private schools; (4) ensure the urban housing policy facilitates residential structures that are intentionally mixed, slowly addressing the legacy of some families living in particular areas to enable greater interaction and solidarity across society. Ch 13 addresses the memory of the blockade, and makes an interesting case about the rise of nationalist sentiment before the blockade that enabled the government to take a bold stance, which thereafter increased nationalist sentiments. Ch 14 covers women in the workforce, with Qatar being positioned as having a low female work force participation and lacking a 'female friendly' work environment. However, the chapter would have been enhanced with regional and international comparisons - Qatar has relatively high female labour force participation (similar to Germany and the UK) and has a rate nearly triple that of other regional countries (e.g. Saudi, Egypt, Iran). The interesting question seems to be the converse - what enabled Qatar to be so different (while acknowledging that further progress could yet be made on enable greater labour participation). 

This is an excellent collection of works for those interested in Qatar. A limitation is that a lot focuses on the political and economic realms (domestic and international) and less on the social issues (other than national identity and female labour participation). Nonetheless, for those interested in the subject areas covered, this is an important contribution. 

  45 Hits
45 Hits
Apr
23

Reading Qatar

Qatar National Library


The Creation of Qatar (1979) Zahlan

Histoire et Changements Sociaux au Qatar (1982) Montigny-Kozlowska

Oil and Politics in the Gulf (1990) Crystal

Qatar, A Modern History (2012, 2017) Fromherz

Small State, Big Politics (2013, 2015) Kamrava

Policy-Making in a Transformative State (2016) Tok, Alkhater, Pal

The Global Majlis (2016) Al Kawari

Doha Experiment (2017) Wasserman

The Gulf Crisis (2018) Miller

Teach for Arabia (2019) Vora

Warriors in a Time of Sacrifice (2019) Sandoval 

Changing Qatar (2020) Harkness

Beyond Exception (2020) Kanna, Le Renard, Vora

Qatar and the Gulf Crisis (2020) Ulrichsen

Contemporary Qatar (2021) Zweiri and Al Qawasmi


  213 Hits
213 Hits
Feb
12

Reading that should be more common...


Ibn Khaldun (2015 translation, 1377 original) Al Muqaddimah 

Cesaire, A. (1950) Discourse on Colonialism

Fanon, F. (1952) Black Skin, White Masks 

Fanon, F. (1959) A Dying Colonialism

Baldwin, J. (1962) The Fire Next Time

Fanon, F. (1963) The Wretched of the Earth 

Fanon, F. (1964) Toward the African Revolution

Memmi, A. (1965) The Colonizer and the Colonized

Ture, K. (1965) Stokely Speaks

Ture, K. and Hamilton, C. (1967) Black Power

Nkrumah, K. (1968) Revolutionary Warfare

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Nkrumah, K. (1970) Class Struggle in Africa

Rodney, W. (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa 

Nkrumah, K. (1973) The Struggle Continues

Gaddafi, M. (1975) The Green Book

Amin, S. (1976) Unequal Development 

Biko, S. (1978) I Write What I Like 

Said, E. (1978) Orientalism

Thiong'o, N. (1981) Decolonizing the Mind 

Amin, S. (1985 French, 1990 English) Delinkine

Amin, S. (1988 French, 2009 revision) Eurocentrism

Sankara, T. (1988) Thomas Sankara Speaks

Mazrui and Mazrui (1998) The Power of Babel

Thiong'o, N. (1993) Moving the Centre

Said, E. (1993) Culture & Imperialism

Amin, S. (1997) Capitalism in the Age of Globalization

Mills, C. W. (1997) The Racial Contract

Smith, L. T. (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies 

Ahmad, E. (2000) Confronting Empire

Mamdani, M. (2001) When Victims Become Killers

Mbembe, A. (2001) On the Postcolonly

Neocosmos, M. (2001) Thinking Freedom in Africa

Chang, H.-J. (2002) Kicking Away the Ladder

Mutua, M. (2002) Human Rights

Asad, T. (2003) Formations of the Secular

Amin, S. (2004) The Liberal Virus

Taiaiake, A. (2005) Wasase

Kiros, T. (2005) Zera Yacob

Mamdani, M. (2005) Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

Ahmad, E. (2006) The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad

Shivji, I. (2007) Silences in NGO Discourse

Eze, E. C. (2008) On Reason

Tandon, Y. (2008) Ending Aid Dependence

Thiong'o, N. (2009) Something Torn and New

Ho Chi Minh (2011) Selected Works

Mignolo, W. (2011) The Darker Side of Western Modernity

Amin, S. (2011) Ending the Crisis of Capitalism

Thiong'o, N. (2012) Globalectics

Mamdani, M. (2012) Define and Rule

Abu-Lughod, L. (2013) Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. (2013) Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity

Ware, R. (2014) The Walking Qur'an

Dabashi, H. (2015) Can Non-Europeans Think?

Massad, J. A. (2015) Islam in Liberalism

Lumumba, P. (2016) May Our People Triumph

Thiong'o, N. (2016) Secure the Base

Cabral, A. (2016, translation) Resistance and Decolonization

Mills, C. W. (2017) Black Rights / White Wrongs

Woldeyes, Y. G. (2017) Native Colonialism 

Mbembe, A. (2017, English translation) Critique of Black Reason

Asad, T. (2018) Secular Translations

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. (2018) Epistemic Freedom in Africa

Mamdani, M. (2018) Citizen and Subject

Mignolo, W. and Walsh, C. (2018) On Decoloniality 

Ibhawoh, B. (2018) Human Rights in Africa

Mbembe, A. (2019, English translation) Necropolitics 

Getachew, A. (2019) Worldmaking after Empire

Mamdani, M. (2020) Neither Settler Nor Native


  664 Hits
664 Hits
Jan
21

Who Are You and Why Are You Here?

I have previously noted my interested in the expanded journal version of people recounting their experiences (e.g. this recent book on the Ebola response). The style (and title) of Jacques Claessens "Who are you and why are you here?" (2018), which was originally published in French in 2013 and translated in this version by Nigel G. Spencer, looked appealing. While interesting, I did not as much enjoying the fictionalization of the book. At least for me, this reduced the interest that I typically have of first-hand personal narratives. The book does open some doors and windows into problematic behaviours and decisions in the sector and might be a starting point for discussions, particularly for those unfamiliar with the sector.  

  352 Hits
352 Hits
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