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Fifa World Cup Notebook – Day 7

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Yes you read right, no political parties in Qatar

Recently Kenyans were shocked to hear the Education Sports Secretary talk about defunding higher education when days earlier the government had released billions of shillings to be shared by political parties. Here in Qatar, there are no political parties. It was only in 1999 that Qataris were allowed to vote in municipal elections. And wait for this, the first parliamentary election were held in 2021.

Voting is restricted to citizens aged 18 years and older whose paternal grandfather was born in the country. Women are allowed to stand for public office, but as is typical in the Arab world, men almost exclusively dominate leadership positions.

Education free and compulsory between ages 6 and 16 years

The achieving NARC government of 2003-2007 was acclaimed worldwide after guaranteeing free primary education to the Kenyan people. Its successor, the Jubilee government, promised a laptop for every Grade One child. That dream disappeared into the thin air from whence it came from.

Here and now in Qatar, education is the stuff dreams are made of, at least from a Kenyan perspective. Education is free, but not compulsory, for all citizens between the ages of 6 and 16. Not surprising, 80 per cent of the country’s population is literate. Classes though are segregated by sex. You will not find a mixed school here.

Qatari number plates are truly, err, number plates

Someone once said that it was false for a person to talk of car “number plates” in Kenya because the plates also contain letters eg KXX 999X, KFF 111. In Qatar, that term is certainly true as only digits are placed on the plates. Now, these numbers and how many appear has a significance here. Cars owned, and presumably driven by Qatari natives have fewer digits than those owned by foreigners.

For instance, number plates with three or four digits like “327” and “5601”, will invariably be of a car owned by a citizen of this country while cars owned by temporary visitors have even six digits eg “870254”. You can tell from the number plates that the foreigners hugely outnumber the locals.



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