Charity groups say that volunteering is on the rise in Qatar, with more people becoming aware of social and environmental issues in the gulf state.
From young people cleaning Doha’s beaches and carrying out wildlife research, to businesses setting up volunteering initiatives to help the country’s youth find jobs, more people are trying their hand at volunteering.
Charity organization Injaz Qatar works with businesses to set up volunteering initiatives for young people with the aim of helping them get a job in the future.
Operations manager at Injaz Qatar, Amar Benaissa, said that people are keen to become volunteers but the challenge he faces is getting in touch with them.
“With volunteer work here in Qatar, there is a potential for volunteering, but one of the challenges is how to establish contact with volunteers. This is one of the difficulties, but there are volunteers and there is a desire for volunteering,” Benaissa said, speaking at a job workshop in a Doha school.
Senior petroleum engineer at Qatar Petroleum Rida Shawqi is a volunteer working with Injaz Qatar on the job initiative scheme for young people.
Shawqi said that volunteering should be about helping everyone and not being limited to helping a certain race or religion.
“I don’t have to do volunteer work in my home country or for a specific race or religion, but for all human beings,” Shawqi said.
Some volunteers are choosing to work by themselves rather than through traditional charity organizations.
Sayeed Mohamed, a research associate at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, is raising awareness on dehydration among construction workers who can spend eight hours working in the scorching heat every day.
Mohamed gathers volunteers through local social forums, and visits worker’s homes every week to explain the perils of dehydration to them.
He said that, although volunteering is relatively new in the region, there is now more awareness of social issues in Qatar.
”Volunteerism is very very new here in this region, like it is not like Canada or the U.S. or European country where you have this culture of volunteerism. So, it’s very new, but there are some organizations who has been instilling these voluntary activities. There are several Qatari organizations, like home grown organizations are there, who is working on it. And I think like there are some people that have been more sympathetic about this issue particularly about the laborers where you have a huge, a massive amount of people who have been working on it. But the problem is again the sensitivity. Like people they don’t want to get into this issue where people will be like, ok, if I am addressing this issue on the labor then I will be in trouble,” Mohamed said.
Sayeed’s campaign has caught the attention of government organizations and is now being endorsed by Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health.
Young people are also keen to help out in their community and become volunteers.
Charity organization The Youth Company (TYC) was set up in 2010 by 22-year-old Mohamed Farid with the hope of increasing social awareness among young people.
The group organized a volunteering event in May for more than 50 young boys and girls, who cleaned and collected rubbish from the city’s beaches.
Youth leader at TYC, Abdulrahman Sajid, said that through volunteering, young people develop a sense of community and responsibility for the issues they face.
“Engaging a community that means you’re increasing, you’re basically making sure that people have a value for the community they live in. There are a lot of expatriates in Qatar. You can see like 60 - 70 percent of the population are based on expatriates, but also we know that a lot of these expatriates and all of the young people who are here are born in this country, and for them this country is more than, is more valuable to them than their own countries back home. So, through volunteering I definitely believe there are a lot of people who develop a sense of ownership, not really ownership, but personal connection with this country,” Sajid said.
Sajid said that being a part of a close community is rewarding for young people and, through volunteering and social enterprise, his charity hopes to create a positive impact on society.