Qatar’s ruling Emir warned the Gulf state on Tuesday against excessive tribalism, which he claimed threatened national unity, and proposed a strategy to promote equal citizenship through revisions of legislation that have irritated tribal sentiments.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani asked Qataris to display “openness and tolerance” when Doha hosts the FIFA World Cup next year in a speech at the first session of the advisory Shura Council, for which partial elections were held for the first time earlier this month.
After several members of a significant tribe were declared ineligible to vote under a statute that limited voting rights to Qataris, whose family had been present before 1930, the inaugural legislative elections for two-thirds of the Council sparked discussion regarding electoral inclusion and citizenship.
Sheikh Tamim said he had given the cabinet instructions to draft legislation modifications supporting “equal Qatari citizenship” and submit them to the Council for approval.
“Nevertheless … Citizenship is not purely a legal issue, but is primarily civilizational and an issue of loyalty, belonging and duty, and not just rights,” he said, adding that tribal intolerance was a “disease.”
“Hateful intolerance, whether tribal or otherwise, could be manipulated and used to subvert and destroy national unity,” he added.
The Council will have legislative authority and will be able to approve broad state policies and the budget, but it will have no voice in how defense, security, economic, or investment policy is determined. The Emir continued to appoint 15 of the body’s 45 members.
Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup next year, with aspirations of attracting 1.2 million spectators to the conservative Gulf state over the course of the 28-day event.
Sheikh Tamim said the event will raise Qatar’s worldwide profile and ” demonstrate the openness and tolerance of the hospitable Qatari people.”
In a wide-ranging address that touched on Qatar’s gas output development plans and economic diversification measures, he also emphasized the need to eliminate “excessive dependence on the state.”