6-12 November 2015 #782

Working away from home

One in every five people in Doha is a Nepali migrant worker.
Pattabi Raman in DOHA

‘Qatar deserves the best’ say signs along important roads in Doha, the capital of Qatar where one in every five people is a Nepali migrant worker. The whole city looks like a construction site as the country builds railways and stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar has the third-largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and has the highest per capita income in the world. Nepali, Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Filipino, Pakistani and Egyptian workers can be seen in protective gear toiling in the 45 degree midday heat.

There are concerns about labour conditions. A worker is owned by his employer, there are often prolonged delays or non-payment of wages which means workers fall behind in repayment of debt that got them here in the first place. Every migrant worker must have a ‘sponsor’ who must also be his employer. The migrant worker cannot change jobs without permission, and cannot leave the country since the employer keeps the passport.

Mohamed Salauddin is a Nepali working as a cleaner at Souq- the art hub of Doha.

Nepali and Indian migrants watch a Bollywood movie inside their camp.

Nepali migrants relax during a break.

The boundary board along a Highway near Doha which says ‘Qatar deserves the best’.

Migrant workers head out for work.

Migrant workers at a construction site.

Migrant workers call it a day.

Migrant workers get on a bus to return to their living quarters.

Read also:

Qatar is reforming labour laws, but is Nepal?, Om Astha Rai

Sudden death, Pete Pattison

Workers in exile, Clare Hennig

Belabouring the obvious, Editorial

Blood, sweat and tears, Damakant Jayshi