Pulling strings a way of life in Qatar

May 13, 2014 - 3:26:24 am

DOHA: Pulling strings in high places to get a job or get some work done is a way of life, and a matter of social prestige, in Qatar.

But people, especially those who manage to land employment using influence, find it hard to get acceptability in the workplace, local Arabic daily Al Raya reported yesterday.

Saleh Al Anzi told the daily that he did voluntary work in some organisation and later got a job there using the influence of the top guy, but it took him a lot of time and effort to become friendly with his colleagues.

“People wouldn’t talk to me, and although I was a university graduate, I felt like I wasn’t welcome there,” Al Anzi told the daily, narrating his bitter experience.

“People, perhaps, didn’t like the fact that I had landed the job using influence with the top man there.”

“I tried talking to people. I tried really hard, but no one would reciprocate. It took a long time to be friendly with my colleagues, and it was only after I proved with my work that I indeed had the ability,” said Al Anzi.

Another Qatari, Ahmed Al Subei, said his daughter once met with an accident and needed medical treatment overseas. 

“I applied to the committee at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) that approves sending citizens for overseas treatment, since I was financially hard-pressed at the time, but my request was turned down.”

“If one uses influence (wasta) with the committee, one’s work is done immediately,” said Al Subei. “It is so easy to go abroad for treatment if you can pull some strings in this SCH panel.”

Dr Batool Mohiuddin, who teaches psychology at Qatar University, told the daily that using wasta is a done thing in the Qatari community and carries social prestige.

“People feel proud abusing the system,” she said. 

According to her, people criticise the use of wasta by others but don’t mind using it to get their own work done.

Using wasta is a part of Qatari culture, so to say. People like to boast about walking into a government department and getting work done in seconds, she added.

The daily spoke to a famous Islamic cleric, Sheikh Al Buanain, and he said the use of wasta wasn’t permitted in Islam because it amounted to depriving a deserving person of what was rightfully his.