Monthly Archives: July 2008

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Today is my parents’ 29th wedding anniversary.  Wow.  This is sadly becoming more and more unheard of, so I brag about them whenever I get the chance 🙂

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your love and support of me in all of my crazy adventures.  I love you, and I’m so thankful for you.

And the Expats Rejoiced… yay

If you’ve never lived in a foreign country, you may not understand the importance of extremely cheap ways to call home.  I have a voice over IP (VoIP) line that works over the internet to give me a Dallas phone number.  This makes it super easy to keep in touch with friends and family, and it lets me conduct any business with companies in the States that I need to.  I pay a monthly fee that’s cheaper than my cell phone was when I lived in Texas.  I also use Skype a lot for video conferencing and even computer-to-phone calls.

There have been a lot of news reports here lately saying that it was illegal to use these services, because it takes away from the income of the telecom provider here.  I don’t think this affected expatriates like me as much as it did the much lower-paid workers that work way too hard for very little money.  Inflation is bad enough here without them having to shell out big bucks to call home.

Anyway, here’s a story from the paper today that explains the whole situation and finally gives an official stance.

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In the News

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I hopefully will very soon.  I’ve been busy with work, took a short vacation to the US, and I went to Bahrain to visit an old friend this weekend.  Wow, I love my life  🙂

I saw a couple of stories in the news today that I had to share.  These are definitely not ones that you would see in the US.  Enjoy.

‘Illicit links’ couple avert jail after marriage

Publish Date: Thursday,17 July, 2008, at 01:52 AM Doha Time
By Nour Abuzant
Original story here.

A CHRISTIAN man and a Muslim woman escaped jail for having illicit relations after he converted to Islam and the couple married.

Lawyers for the pair had asked for the charge to be quashed following the union, but presiding judge Mamon Hamour said the subsequent wedding did not erase the original crime and he passed down a suspended one-year prison sentence.

He explained that “marriage was a holy contract” and it deserved more respect than to be used to cover up a crime.  However, the court applauded the man’s decision to convert to Islam and admitted that the fact that they were now husband and wife had helped reduce their sentence.

The couple’s illicit affair was uncovered after the woman accused her then lover of blackmailing her.  She said he had in his possession a number of intimate photographs which he had threatened to put on the Internet unless she had paid him QR100,000.

The court heard that the Lebanese pair had hoped to marry but both their families had been against the idea because she was older than him and because of their religious differences.

The trial also heard that the couple had lived together for a while in Doha in 2005 because the woman “was unaware that such a matter was illegal in Qatar”.

The man denied attempts to blackmail his then girlfriend claiming she had concocted the story after falsely believing he was about to marry another woman.

Officers found no evidence of compromising pictures on his computer.

Acting on their lawyers’ advice, the two of them buried the hatchet and tied the knot in March after the groom-to-be converted on October 31, 2007.

Despite mentioning the alleged blackmail plot, judge Hamour said he would only deal with the charge brought by the Public Prosecution of illicit relations.

The court also stopped short of deporting the pair “to allow them to establish a family in Doha”.

However, legal sources said the couple’s conviction could affect any decision to renew their residence permits.

Co-education remains taboo for most Qataris

Publish Date: Thursday,17 July, 2008, at 01:08 AM Doha Time
By Anwar Elshamy
Original story here.

MOST Qataris are not in favour of any plan to introduce co-education, saying it will only “cause damage to a deeply-rooted culture of segregation between male and female students”.

Abdul Aziz al-Sayed, a principal of an Independent School, said that any plan for co-education would be regarded as a “war against the culture and create confusion and alienation among students”.

According to him, it is hard to put an end to a heritage of single-sex learning. “We should not be lured by the educational philosophies made in the West. Every society has its own traits and our society is not prepared for such step or even will be happy with it,” he said, adding, “Even some Western countries have introduced single-sex education system.

“I have visited many schools in the USA and Europe and they are reviewing the policy of co-education after many findings showed its drawbacks,” he said.

Noura al-Saad, a columnist with a local Arabic daily, said that any proposal to introduce co-education system would be doomed to fail since “the scheme would not be acceptable to the community at all”.

“I believe that any step like that will be rejected by the majority. Our community will not be happy about the idea of mixing between men and women whether at schools or at work. Nothing obliges us to adopt co-education system,” she said.

“I put a face veil and work in an exclusively female section in my office, I will quit my job if it becomes obligatory for me to work in a mixed-sex environment,” she added.

Dr Amina al-Hail, an official at the Ministry of Education, dismissed the perception that those who received their education in a single-sex system can hardly work in a labour market permitting mixing between males and females, as “untrue”.

“All the Qatari women are now working in public and private sectors along with men though both were products of a single-sex education. The problem is that the foreigners think that our community is being shackled by restrictions and traditions. This notion is wrong. Men and women are working now on equal basis with one another in many departments and we do not hear about harassment of any type,” she said.  However, Hassan al-Jifairi, a social activist, favoured co-education system, saying that it would improve the output of education process by attracting students to schools and universities.

“I believe that ending the segregation of genders in university and schools will improve learning and make it attractive. Both males and females would be inspired by one another and have spirit of competition,” he said. According to al-Jifairi, it would also create some sort of self-discipline as females and males try to be courteous, cautious and under control when they are in one place.