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Posted On: 28 November 2010 04:06 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Concern over rising expat population

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Qatari youth seem to be seriously concerned about the rising number of low-income foreign workers in the country, the yawning gender gap and unemployment in their midst. A key Qatari policymaker yesterday faced a barrage of questions from the audience — consisting mostly of young Qatari boys and girls — in a popular television programme about how the country planned to narrow the increasing gap between the number of men and women and whether the large influx of unskilled male workers would eventually be restricted. Sheikh Hamad bin Jabor bin Jassim Al Thani, head of the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), said in reply to the questions that more low-income foreign workers were being recruited since basic infrastructure was being developed. But once adequate infrastructure is in place, the influx would drop considerably. He, however, obliquely lauded the foreign workers and said whatever their number they were crucial for development. Sheikh Hamad was the guest on Qatar Television's popular monthly programme ‘Lakum Al Qarar’ (‘The Decision is Yours’) yesterday. Asked by a young Qatari woman as to why foreign women workers were not being recruited to narrow the gender gap, Sheikh Hamad said: “We are instead focusing on empowering Qatari women.” In this regard he referred to H H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned’s efforts to make available opportunities for quality education to nationals. Asked how Qatar planned to handle the rush of people from overseas if it won the 2022 World Cup bid, he said: “We have a strategy to tackle the problem.” Asked why the QSA does not mention figures and details of Qatar’s foreign investment, Sheikh Hamad said the Authority does have those statistics but does not make them public for strategic reasons. “We can’t disclose everything,” he said briefly. Answering another question about the need to protect Qatari identity in the face of threats posed by the exploding population of foreigners, he said: “Our development strategy does focus on this key issue.”