Qatar: words turned into deeds

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ear­lier this year, the western me­dia made a big is­sue about the work­ing con­di­tions for thou­sands of for­eign work­ers em­ployed in con­struct­ing sta­dia for the 2022 foot­ball World Cup in Qatar.

In an in­ter­view pub­lished in the Sun­day Mail on April 19, the Qatari am­bas­sador to Cyprus, Hus­sain Ah­mad AlHo­maid, asked to com­ment on th­ese re­ports, said: “Qatar un­der­took to build the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture needed to host the World Cup in 2022, which shall be ready on time, if not even be­fore…

“The Qatari gov­ern­ment spares no ef­fort to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate and safe work­ing con­di­tions for those who are in­volved in the con­struc­tion of the fa­cil­i­ties needed for host­ing the World Cup.”

Now words have been turned into deeds. On Sun­day, Novem­ber 1, the Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of the In­te­rior, Sheikh Ab­dul­lah Bin Nasser Bin Khal­ifa AlThani in­au­gu­rated the Labour City at Mu­sais­meer, 14 kilo­me­tres from Doha cen­tre and 13 km from the Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Built over an area of 1,100,000 square me­tres, the new Labour City can ac­com­mo­date 100,000 work­ers and is con­sid­ered a hu­man and cul­tural model, which pro­vides a suit­able en­vi­ron­ment with se­cu­rity and safety, care and recre­ation ar­eas, re­flect­ing the con­cern of the State of Qatar to pro­vide ser­vices for res­i­dents.

The Labour City is di­vided into two sec­tions: the first, the en­ter­tain­ment and busi­ness sec­tor com­prises a com­mer­cial cen­tre and mar­ket, a cricket ground, a the­atre and four mod­ern cin­ema halls. The sec­ond hosts the res­i­den­tial com­plexes for work­ers and con­tains 55 res­i­den­tial build­ings with the ca­pac­ity to house 100,000 work­ers, places of wor­ship with two mosques and a large mosque for Fri­day noon prayer, as well as a med­i­cal clinic which was de­signed to deal with ur­gent cases and rapid ex­am­i­na­tions.

The city has also been pro­vided with a num­ber of pub­lic tele­phone booths and Wi-Fi equipped cen­tres, giv­ing res­i­dents the chance to com­mu­ni­cate with their fam­i­lies back home. An in­te­grated net­work of sur­veil­lance cam­eras linked to po­lice cen­tres pro­vides se­cu­rity and emer­gency re­sponse.

Most im­por­tantly, in or­der to strengthen the le­gal frame­work con­cern­ing the work­ers the State of Qatar took the nec­es­sary mea­sures by amend­ing its labour law.

In par­tic­u­lar, the new labour law in­cludes amend­ments to be­gin the ap­pli­ca­tion of the wages pro­tec­tion sys­tem, which aims at guar­an­tee­ing the pay­ment of all wages within the pe­riod spec­i­fied by the law. Min­is­te­rial de­ci­sions also pro­vide for the set­ting up of a wage pro­tec­tion depart­ment and de­ter­mine the con­di­tions and spec­i­fi­ca­tions of ad­e­quate ac­com­mo­da­tion for the work­ers with a view to pro­vid­ing more com­fort, safety and health stan­dards.

Ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures are tar­get­ing those who vi­o­late the law. In such a case, the grant­ing of any new work per­mit and all trans­ac­tions per­tain­ing to the em­ployer at the min­istry are can­celled.

Fi­nally, the mon­i­tor­ing of the com­pa­nies is en­trusted to labour in­spec­tors with wide ju­di­cial author­ity. Any vi­o­la­tion of the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the law can en­tail the im­pris­on­ment of the em­ployer for a max­i­mum pe­riod of six months and/or a penalty be­tween 2,000-6,000 Qatari riyals (EUR 500-1,500), as well as putting his com­pany on the black list.

Hard work over the last three years and the set­ting up of an ad­e­quate le­gal frame­work for the pro­tec­tion of the work­ers in­volved in this huge en­ter­prise are guar­an­tee­ing a suc­cess­ful out­come and a bright per­spec­tive for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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