Monday, May 2, 2011
Does Qatar Hold Elections?
A couple of weeks ago these signs started showing up all over the city and created some curiosity in the expat community. People started making guesses about what they could mean. My favorite guess was a group of women who half jokingly said the signs were memorials for people who had died in car accidents in the roundabouts where they were posted. When they started seeing the same signs all over the city though, that kind of blew that theory out of the water. So what could they be? No English is included on any of the signs so the wondering continued until we could talk to a reliable Arabic speaker.
My reliable source told me that they are election signs for Doha City Council. Who knew there were ever elections in Qatar? I surely didn't. Other expat theories proposed that maybe this was a PR campaign for Qatar so that the world could see evidence of some democratic activity going on, something to stave off Qatar's own civil unrest, but since the citizens of Qatar are very happy to receive and spend their millions of riyals they receive from the government, there really are no worries here about protests from Qatari nationals. BUT if it was a PR campaign a few of us imagined that the emir would call in a few favorable people who were on his good side and tell them that they were going to run for office; then he would tell them if they were going to win and by how much. This is what some of us imagine democracy to be like under a Middle Eastern monarch, but then again, I haven't researched the government workings of Qatar so I am by no means an expert. I am very interested though, especially considering there is an abaya clad woman running for office, so I did a little research and found this.