About 350 Nepalese expatriates, including a number of women, are stranded in Qatar after their employers have vanished following the completion of their project.
Speaking to Gulf Times yesterday, an official of the Nepalese embassy said the stranded workers belonged to a company which had its labour accommodation and some other offices in the Industrial Area. The company’s main office in the Industrial Area was reportedly shifted sometime last month to the Vegetable Market area.
Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation's (Kahramaa) decision to impose a fee on the public taps put up by Qataris in front of their houses, has invited sharp reactions from various quarters. Prominent citizens termed Kahramaa's decision as ‘inhuman’ and the fee as ‘exorbitant’.
Being nationals, Qataris are eligible for free domestic consumption of power and water. And several nationals have put up public taps in front of their houses to quench the thirst of hapless expatriate labourers and pedestrians during summer.
The embassy of Nepal, with the support of community members, has rented a camp in the industrial area to accommodate stranded Nepalese workers.
Rajendra Pandey, Charge d' Affaires at the embassy told The Peninsula yesterday that the facility can accommodate 50 to 60 workers at one time. Workers facing distressful situations will be provided shelter in the camp until their problems are resolved or the authorities concerned take a final decision on their pending cases.
Sexual harassment, non-payment of salaries and poor living conditions are among the reasons why a growing number of Indonesian women abandon their employers, diplomatic sources here said.
Cases of abuse reported by Indonesian domestic helpers to their mission is increasing over the years, the Gulf Times reported yesterday, releasing data provided by the mission. The cases of absconding maids has increased to 261 this year compared to 182 last year.
The question and answer session at a panel discussion on the sponsorship laws in the GCC turned stormy yesterday as decision-makers from the region reacted sharply to what they perceived were veiled attempts by speakers to liken the system to slavery.
The battle lines were, in fact, drawn from the word go as panelists included officials from Qatar's National Human Rights Committee and the International Labor Organization (ILO), on the one hand, and regional bureaucrats, on the other.
A Qatari employer yesterday lambasted the calls made by some of the participants of the ongoing regional symposium on expatriate workforce to replace expats with citizens of the Gulf states in the private sector as “unrealistic”.
Mohamed al-Kubaisi, a board member at a Qatari private company, told a session at the symposium he was no longer recruiting Qataris or citizens of the GCC as he had a “bitter experience” with both.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S secretary general Irene Khan has urged Qatar to act upon its prime minister’s statement that “the sponsorship law and exit permit system are internationally unacceptable and close to slavery.”
“I would hope this statement leads towards liberalising the regime and ensuring that non-nationals have access to rights,” she told Gulf Times in an interview yesterday.
Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani had made the observation on Sunday, while addressing a consultative meeting hosted by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Qatar is reporting labor disputes to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva annually. This was disclosed by a senior official of the Department of Labor, Abdullah Al Mohannadi, in a talk on Qatar Radio yesterday.
The Department is receiving around eight to 13 complaints from laborers on an average a day. On some days, the number could be more, he said.
"We are forwarding these statistics (of complaints) to the ILO every year," added Al Mohannadi.
Qatar is in the process of drafting an anti-trafficking law and has been taking measures to address the problem, but there is still room for much to be done to implement its international obligations related to human trafficking, the special rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons at the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Sigma Huda, said yesterday.
Addressing a press conference in Doha, the UN expert lauded the Qatari government for its "recognition of human trafficking as a problem in Qatar and giving her access to all the places she requested to visit".
The ambitious campaign for Qatarisation is paying little dividends in the field of technical expertise. Qataris' growing preference for white collar jobs is cited as the main reason for the phenomenon.
A large number of technical posts being reserved for nationals are lying vacant at various government corporations and private companies.
The Sri Lankan Embassy here is pressing Colombo to fix a minimum monthly salary of QR600 for unskilled Sri Lankan workers being hired by cleaning companies in Qatar as janitors.
A senior mission official told The Peninsula yesterday that the cleaning companies here are notorious for paying low salaries to their employees.
A Sri Lankan janitor is on an average paid QR400 a month which is a pittance considering the escalating prices, especially of foodstuff and clothing, said Cryshantha Herath, Labor Attaché at the Sri Lankan Embassy.
It is estimated that approximately 16 percent of the Qatari population is suffering from diabetes. According to a report published in Al Sharq, this is the one of the highest percentages of diabetics anywhere in the world. Incidentally, children aged less than eight are falling prey to this disease.
The report attributes the high incidence of diabetes to unhealthy food eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. To make matters worse cases of those suffering from obesity and high blood pressure is also on the rise.
As if you needed reminding: It's dangerous out there. And if your parents' warnings that the world is full of malevolent people and mishap-prone places didn't stick, the State Department is ready to fill the void.
From the spectacular to the mundane, while terrorism grabs headlines, most problems faced by Americans abroad have nothing to do with al-Qaida but rather cutthroat con artists, corrupt officers and dismal drivers.
Thus, the department's Overseas Security Advisory Council places heavy emphasis on local motoring mores in the reports.
The Supreme Education Council (SEC) has raised the salaries of all the Qatari teachers working with the Independent Schools. A decision in this regard was taken at an executive committee meeting of the Council held in January this year, which was chaired by H H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, according to Al Sharq.
About 1,500 Qatari teachers at the Independent Schools- male and female- will now get a hike of QR2,600 each in their monthly salaries, the paper said.
Ghana's government is sending a delegation to Qatar to investigate allegations that Ghanaians recruited to work in that country are being maltreated.
The allegations are being made by a group of Ghanaians who left in September to work in Qatar's booming construction industry. Under an agreement between the two countries, 800 Ghanaians are to work in Qatar. So far, 550 people have been recruited, 250 of whom are already in Qatar.
Criticism over the recent Qatar recruitment exercise in Ghana has taken on a different dimension, with the Al-Jaber group, and their local agents, Rahman Consultancy Limited, now facing allegations of human trafficking.
After the arrival of the first batch of Ghanaians to the oil-rich Qatar three months ago, several disgruntled workers complained of conditions there, resulting in a Government fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations.
Hundreds of Burmese laborers are being sent under contract to the Gulf state of Qatar, lured by foreign currency earnings and promises of decent jobs, living conditions, and health care. But when they arrive, the reality is woefully different, Burmese migrant workers have said.
“The agents in Burma manipulate and cheat us,” general worker Ko Aung told RFA’s Burmese service. “All they do is squeeze from us as much as they can and then put us on the plane to Qatar. The rest is not their concern.”
Some Qatari intellectuals and candidates have criticised the electoral law which they say denies full political rights to citizens, days ahead of the Central Municipal Council's elections.
The exclusion of seven candidates, all naturalised Qataris, from the electoral contest stirred a heated debate over the electoral law, which a growing part of the community deems as unconstitutional.
A measly five percent of Qataris are working in the private sector, according to a report issued by the local statistical bureau. Nationals are shying away from private sector jobs due to low pay and less benefits in comparison to government ministries and departments.
One national, Adnan Al Emadi, cited an example of government departments allowing 10 days off for Eid, while the private sector only allows a mere three-day holiday.
Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs has blacklisted 14 Qatari companies at the recommendation of the country's embassy for not treating Indian workers properly. Another 40 local firms have been put on the mission's watch-list following complaints from Indian workers about not fulfilling their contractual obligations.
"This is only a watch-list and as and when a company is found to have improved its track record, its name would be removed from it," George Joseph, the Indian ambassador to Qatar, was quoted as saying in media.