Having written in German for the last couple of posts, today, on the german national day, I will treat all non-german speaking people to a google-translate free post in english.

Many writers and commentators used the occasion to both commemorate the peaceful unification of East- and West Germany in 1990, but also to take a look at Germany’s position today, in Europe and the world. We can see a country, that ever since it joined its forces, continued to be among the world leading countries in technology, engineering and innovation. For example, while being only the 53rd largest country it ranks number 6 worldwide in size of its railway system. Directly behind countries that have many times the surface area of Germany. It is a strong player in the renewable energy sector and the german automotive industry has not lost its appeal. Why am I pointing this out? It is actually not a notion about economy, but rather culturural diversity. As diverse as the german industries, are the nationalities of the people that do their share of the show. You can see this mainly in the big cities and any production facility. The most common nationalities among immigrants are Turkey, Jugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Poland, Croatia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, USA, Macedonia in the order of the percentage (high to low).

In Qatar I get a very different picture. While the country depends even more on expatriate workforce, most of these foreigners usually don’t stay in the country for long. They either just finish a contract based assignment, or work a couple of years, in order to return to their home country with a full savings account. The majority of blue collar workers does not really keep the money in the account, but they send a varying amount of it home to support their families every month.

In Germany, these people-imported cultures partly blend in, partly try to preserve their heritage, yet eventually many of them stay there and enrich the german cultural landscape for future generations. We could actually speak of unity in diversity. Despite being a secular state, the role of islam (among the majority of the other big religions) has been recognized and addressed by the politics in certain areas (even though the display of religious symbols at schools has been banned). I admit that, at the same time, there is growing sentiment and media campaigning against the [new] religions. In the case of islam this sometimes happens in ways not less demagogic, then those by extremists in other countries with a questionable level of basic education or even literacy. —

In Qatar in return (where the majority of the residents are foreign citizens), I have the feeling that many people are more tolerant towards other religions or cultures. This seems to base on the large common denominator of being away from their countries. Yet they don’t mix a lot. You can observe this in many neighborhoods in Doha and elsewhere, that tend to be monocultural and also in the way accommodation is advertised (Only Indian Male, only Nepali, only Phillipino, etc.). —

As recently as 6 years ago, some people referred to Germany as the old economy or the old Europe. Today it works as a role model in efficiency, crisis-resiliance and overall economic strength. Why is that? One explanation might be the high moral importance of discipline, which was even fueled by two devastating world wars and the impressive restoration after WWII. Also by two brutal regimes, that both tried to maximize the productivity of its people. The Nazi regime and the socialist regime in the separated east, that is.

As a side-note, it is worth stating, that Germany has a long tradition of (organized) immigration (from very different kinds of refugees) that incidentally provided its economy with intellectual, as well as with workforce stimuli. An early example were the 44.000 Huguenots (persecuted protestants from France) that were granted a safe refuge in the german region of Brandenburg in 1685. —

Looking at the german immigration in Qatar, I observe one difference from most of the asian or arab immigrants.  Germans come in small numbers, but they come as acclaimed specialists in their field – and in their luggage they bring highly specialized machinery (like the fastest tunnel drilling machine in the world). Given this, I am waiting for a german (or even swiss for that matter) university to open a branch in Doha. Until today, Qatar is only blessed with prestigious outlets of their respective Anglo-Saxon universities, which represent education as a very exclusive affair. This seems to be a great opportunity, both for Germany and Qatar, Especially when considering Qatar’s aspiration to complement its hydrocarbon depending economy with a homegrown knowledge-based economy.

In the meantime, different people from different continents will continue to unite themselves in their diversity. In Germany, in Qatar and in most other parts of the world as well. Happy German Unity Day, which in reality also celebrates a united Europe, East and West.


(by the way, all photos are taken in Qatar, except when stated otherwise. All rights reserved. If you are interested in using any of the photos, please contact the author.)