Egyptians in Qatar celebrate Mubarak’s ousting with great fanfare

February 18, 2011

Jubilant Egyptians living in Qatar rejoiced along the Doha Corniche after the announcement that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned after around 30 years in office.

The news was greeted with an outburst of joy and celebration by thousands along the roads of the Corniche with an atmosphere similar to Tahrir Square, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported.

“We are free, Egypt is free,” said Mohammad Sali, an Egyptian youth dancing and singing on the road with a group of his friends, while Ahmad Mohazi, another youth walking along the road with this country’s national flag, kept shouting that Egyptians were celebrating their independence day.

The gathering at the Corniche was quickly organised by the Egyptian community through text messages and telephone calls.

“I received an SMS from my friend asking me to come near the Corniche,” said an elated Egyptian.

However, a family went to the Doha landmark based on assumption.

“We know people gather near the Corniche for any large event, so we came here,” said a family. Apart from parading in vehicles, people also gathered along the roads near Al Bida Park and places near the Sheraton Hotel.

According to the daily, several Qataris joined in the celebrations. “We are happy for the Egyptians,” said a Qatari youth.

However, Mubarak’s exit was bad news for at least one section of the Egyptian expatriates in Qatar-the foreign exchange operators who literally had a field day since anti-government protests began in Egypt on January 25.

The Egyptian currency recovered after reports of the collapse of Mubarak’s regime came in, upsetting those running unofficial remittance rackets between Doha and Egypt.

From 2.5 pounds to a riyal, the Egyptian pound began improving after the banks reopened back home last Sunday. The rate in the black market in Doha on Friday was 2.2 pounds to a riyal and it is expected to plummet further after Mubarak’s ouster.

“It is bad news for us,” a source in the exchange business told The Peninsula yesterday, reacting to reports of the Egyptian dictator’s ousting.

Since the official exchange rate of the pound remained 1.6 to a riyal all through the unfolding crisis in Egypt, many Egyptian expatriates turned to the black market to remit funds home due to the ‘lucrative’ rates on offer.

People’s increasing reliance on the parallel market was also the result of Egyptian banks shutting down for over ten days, disrupting official remittance channels.

“We did brisk business over the past fortnight but the good times are over,” the source said, quoted by the daily. Egyptians would now go back to the official remittance channels to transfer funds home.

“We will be left with our permanent customers – the low-income Egyptians who are mostly staying here without renewing their visas. They have no ID (identity) cards so they rely on us to send money home,” said the source.

These workers are mostly employed by farmhouses in the north of the country and since they do not have Qatari ID cards, they cannot go to the banks or exchange houses for cash transfers.

In Manama, people were also out, honking their cars, but their celebrations were not sparked by developments in Cairo, but by the announcement that King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa had ordered a payment of 1,000 dinars ($2,640) for each Bahraini family as the country celebrated the National Action Charter, the referendum-backed document that in February 2001 heralded constitutional and political reforms.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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