This interview was conducted with Yaqoob Yousef Al-Mass about his educational journey throughout his life and all the obstacles he had to face to get to where he is currently. He worked for 45 years in the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
Mohammad: When did you enroll in your first school? And what was it called?
Yaqoob: In the name of of Allah the Merciful. Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his family and companions. As to my studies in the schools of Doha, we all know that the formal schools were established in Qatar during the era of his highness Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani, at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. I graduated from an elementary school called AlMutawassita school, which was later named Salah Al Din school in Freej(Area of residence, neighborhood) Abdulaziz near Al Dawhah Al Jadeeda. The same school was later replaced by khadija bint Khuwaylid School.
Mohammad: When did you graduate from this school? Where did you go afterwards?
Yaqoob: After graduating from Salah Al Din school elementary school in 1961, I enrolled in the Technical school.
Mohammad: Since these were some of the first schools established in Qatar, why did you enroll in them? Did your parents ask you to?
Yaqoob: Back in our days, parents did not possess the awareness of guiding students. So students had to depend on themselves in everything. In my opinion, the students back then had more passion for education. We were living in Freej Al Hitmi, and were using buses to attend school. Somedays, If we’ve missed the bus or it didn’t arrive on time then we would get to walk until Al Dawhah Al Jadeeda. Which was one or one and half hour far.
Mohammad: Have you ever missed the bus? How did your school react to that?
Yaqoob: Yes, of course it did a lot. It wasn’t only me, but lots of students as well. But the school has always considered our circumstances and that we’d eventually be an hour or an hour and half late. Withal, we’ve always attended school.
Mohammad: What did you do after you graduated from the Technical middle school?
Yaqoob: After I graduated from Technical middle school, a Technical high school has been established for the same middle school. So the Technical school became a total of 6 years studying, which was a long time to be in the same school. In the same time in 1963 other schools have been established such as business school, teaching institute..etc. So I graduated from the Technical high school as our class, class of 1967, was the first class graduated. Unfortunately after graduation in 1967, our school’s degree was not acknowledged during the equivalence process with other certificates. So I got delayed. But since I was one of the top students, I’ve worked as a teacher in the Technical school after graduating from the Technical high school. And I think it’s not easy for a student to graduate from high school and work as a teacher in the same school 3 months afterwards! After sometime, the ministry of education has chosen 5 students to study in Kuwait under a scholarship. In 1970 I have received a diploma in applied engineering from its institute in Kuwait and came back to Doha. When I came back, I applied at the Ministry of Municipality & Environment and worked as a buildings’ inspector with the engineering’s diploma. In the same time I tried applying to college but they refused and required an Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma degree (general secondary school competition certificate in Qatar) or an equivalent. So I had to study at night, as an employee, for the Al Aiedadyah Al A’Amma (general middle school competition certificate in Qatar). And of course the middle and high school technical certificates were useless. And I have finally acquired Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma. In addition to that, in 1972 a business diploma institute was established which I enrolled in during the night for 2 years. Until I graduated from it in 1974 and again since I was the top student I was offered a scholarship to study in Britain.
Mohammad: How old were you when you have finally received Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma?
Yaqoob: I was somewhere between 23 or 24 years old.
Mohammad: How did you manage your time between working and studying in the same time? Was it stressful?
Yaqoob: No, on the contrary, I’ve always had high ambitions. I was married back then and I used to finish from work in the afternoon and then leave to the business institute. And then at 6pm I go to study for Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma in a school near Ras Abu Abood. So my whole time was either consumed by work or studies.
Mohammad: What did you do after studying in Britain?
Yaqoob: I came back in 1976 and continued working in the Ministry of Municipality. Where I have created two departments for building inspection and building licenses.
Mohammad: Have you received a bachelor or was Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma your last qualification?
Yaqoob: After I received Al Thanawiya Al A’Amma , I didn’t sit doing nothing. I was working until I became an administrator and studied in Beirut Arab University. By that time I have spent 30 years from the elementary degree until my bachelor in history.
Mohammad: What were some of your achievements in the Ministry of Municipality & Environment back then near the 1980?
Yaqoob: It turned out that there were no laws for building in 1985. So a committee was formed under my leadership which included some Qatari engineers. We’ve published a book named “rules and regulations of building in Doha,” where we’ve talked about planning, structures..etc. When the official building law was confirmed in 1985, a huge amount of it was taken from this book. 200 copies were printed and distributed to consultation offices.
Mohammad: Who was the minister of the Ministry of Municipality & Environment through your work period?
Yaqoob: When I started working the minster was Muhammad bin Jabr bin Muhammed Al Thani. When he died, Khalid Al Atiya the minster of Public Works became our minister temporarily. And then Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani became our minister who became the minister of Foreign Affairs and the prime minister later as he used to work in his uncle’s office Sheikh Mohammad. In total, I have worked with 8 directors and 8 ministers in this ministry.
Mohammad: What positions have you held in the Ministry of Municipality & Environment?
Yaqoob: I have worked in most departments of this ministry. I remember that in 1983 there was an organization called Arab Towns organization located in Kuwait as it had branched organizations. There was a suggestion from Arabic towns to create an organization to award and evaluate these towns which was later called Arab Towns Organization Award located in Qatar. I was assigned as a supervisor for this branched organization in 1983 in addition to my job as an office manager in the ministry. Then when the work structure was changed, I became an assistant director for public affairs in the ministry. Later on, I was assigned as the director of the organization from the minister of the ministry himself.
~~Stations in my life..~~
Yaqoob: So this book is called “Stations in my life,” written by me from 2002 to 2011. In this book, I’ve saved all of the official documents written by and about me since I started working in the Ministry of Education and Ministry Municipality & Environment.
Mohammad: How many years have you served the Ministry of Municipality & Environment until now?
Yaqoob: Until now I’ve worked in the ministry of Municipality & Environment for 45 years. Even after all this time I was the one who asked for the retirement by myself. There are few of those whom people will hold onto as long as they can still achieve things even if they were too old. I believe anyone who does his work in a proper way people will refuse to let go of him. But in the end, you need to consider your own comfort at some point. I’ve worked in the Ministry of education for 2 years and Ministry of Municipality for 45. So that’s 48 years of work. I think it’s time that we give ourselves sometime to rest.