When do you consider a country your “Watan”?

So, the question is what is “Watan”? Is it the country you were born in? Nationality in the Arab world is not given by birth. For example, a baby born in Kuwait will not be granted the Kuwaiti nationality unless his/her father is a Kuwaiti. Or is it the country you lived in most of your working years. Nationality in most Arab countries is not granted to a human based on the number of years he lived in it. Egyptians and Palestinians who worked for more than 30 years in Saudi Arabia (or other Arab Gulf countries) were not and will not be granted that country’s nationality.

Unfortunately, many times I hear Jordanians condemn Jordan and living in Jordan because they can’t find a job or because they have disagreement with the government. In America I meet people from all over the world. Many of those people are in disagreement with their government but they never condemn their country because they consider it as their “Watan”. I saw many homeless in USA holding American flags almost every where they go. They are unemployed but they still love their country; their Watan.

My definition of Watan is the place where you feel you belong. I am in my mid thirties, lived outside Jordan more than I lived in Jordan but I never felt I belong to any place more than Jordan. Although I am half Jordanian and half Syrian (mother’s side) I never felt I belong to any place other than Jordan.

Until we teach our kids to love their Watan we will keep see dirty streets and unethical driving habits. I very much like what JFK said “my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

update: Tunis, as far as I know, is the only Arab country that grant its nationality to new born babies even if neither the father nor the mother are Tunisians.


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