Thursday, March 27, 2014

Qatari Military Service

Sometime last year an announcement was made by the Government that it was going to institute mandatory military service for all Qatari men aged 18 to 35. His Highness the Emir wasn't kidding and earlier this month he signed the decree regarding the military service. In the meantime the military hadn't been sitting around -- everything was already prepared, the first batch of recruits report to camp on 1 April!

Some of my Qatari friends will be in that first group. They decided that it would be better to volunteer and complete the service now, and it would even be better to go with a bunch of friends so they could support each other, so a lot of them signed up. Meanwhile the military also called hundreds of Qataris aged 33 and 34 to inform them that they would be starting their military service. The medical tests were conducted in the last few weeks.

So what is going to happen? Well this is what I've been told by my friends based on what they know and from information given to them at a recent meeting:

1. Service is for three months, and they believe it will be at a military base somewhere north of Doha.
2. For the first four weeks (though I've also heard it might be six weeks) they will be at the Camp seven days a week. After that time, if the commanding officer lets them, they'll be allowed to go home on the weekends.
3. For bringing mobile phones I’m hearing mixed information with some saying that they aren’t allowed and others saying you can bring it but can only use it with permission of a superior officer. I'm assuming if they can bring them everyone will have to keep their phones in lockers or something.
4. The daily schedule will be something like this:
wake up early
go to fajr prayer
training (I assume mostly exercise)
break for breakfast
more training
break for showering etc.
zuhr prayer
class and/or training
asr prayer

In some ways it's almost like a fitness camp, with some weapons training thrown in. No information as to whether the training would include sea or air training. It would be cool to hear that my friends were parachuting out of planes or something like that.

I've spoken to a lot of Qataris about the mandatory military service and have yet to find one who didn't think it was a good idea. While some are reluctant that they will have to do it all agreed that in the end it's probably for the best that this was instituted in Qatar. Some have spoken about the benefits of the younger generation getting some exercise, learning some responsibility, and getting away from things like video games for a while.

Fine thing to say before you start, we'll see what my friends have to say about it when they return in July.

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