Qatar will more than double the number of migrant labourers in the country to 2.5mn by 2020 ahead of hosting the World Cup, a leading businessman said yesterday.
Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman bin Nasser al-Thani told a business conference in Doha that the number of workers would reach “2.5mn within three to five years”.
The new arrivals will work on major projects in the run up to the football World Cup being held in the country in 2022.
Sheikh Nasser is the chairman of Daruna, a company that specialises in building migrant labour housing.
He was speaking at the Meed “Qatar Projects” conference, a two-day event that brings together business leaders, consultants and government figures from the infrastructure, transport and energy sectors.
Sheikh Nasser also yesterday unveiled proposals for a new accommodation centre for migrant labourers in Qatar, which he said would greatly improve housing standards.
“We are offering our guest workers a living standard of the highest Qatar has ever seen,” he said.
Qatar is spending over $200bn over the next decade on a number of huge infrastructure projects, including a metro system for Doha, developing the country’s roads, and building a new port.
The city of Lusail which will house the stadium where the World Cup final will be played is also being built and the country’s main airport, Hamad International, is being upgraded.
In recent weeks, Qatar has announced a major reform of the labour market to implement an electronic payment scheme which should ensure thousands of workers are paid on time.
The change, long championed by rights groups, should mean workers get paid at least once a month and, in some cases, every fortnight.
Campaigners have called on the Qatari government to do more, including addressing the“kafala” sponsorship system which enables employers to prevent foreign workers from changing jobs
Other areas where campaigners have called for change include the confiscation of passports by employers, workers not being issued an exit visa so they can leave Qatar, and migrant labourers having to pay recruitment fees.
Meanwhile, visiting German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has called for better conditions for those constructing the sites for the 2022 Football World Cup, but he said that people should also treat Qatar fairly.
“We know there were considerable violations in the past,” Gabriel, who is also German’s economy minister, said during a visit to a major construction site in Lusail, some 15km north of Doha.
However, he said the West should acknowledge that Qatar had greatly improved the conditions for the construction workers.
Deal on labour accommodations
Daruna Development, a provider of “advanced” workers’ accommodations in Qatar, has signed a QR800mn management contract with Wasita Qatar (Isnad), a subsidiary of the Wasita Group of Companies. The agreement covers the development of 12,000 workers’ accommodations over the next 36 months. It was signed on the sidelines of the Meed conference. Daruna will maintain ownership of the accommodations while Wasita will operate and manage the workers’ housing to include: housekeeping, catering, laundry and maintenance functions. Through their agreement with Wasita, Daruna Development will be able to rapidly market the permanent workers’ accommodations in full compliance with all international and Qatari legal standards.
The Daruna designs are the first in Qatar to be certified as compliant by Qatar Foundation according to their Standards for Workers’ Welfare guide published in 2013. Wasita Group operates in the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Turkey.
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