t was kind of scary for a while there,” said Robert Foster, an American from Beaufort, South Carolina. “We sold everything we had.”
Foster is one of a number of expats who have found themselves in financial trouble in Qatar, where the economic slowdown and a lack of bankruptcy laws have meant that the loss of your job could also mean the loss of your liberty.
In January, Foster said his boss called him into his office and laid him off, along with others. Four days later, the bank closed his account, putting all he had toward his remaining loan, he said.
Oil prices have fallen from more than $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to bottom out this January at under $30, a 12year low. In the time since, oil has clawed back to $50 on supply disruptions and lowered reserves, but the damage already had been done.
In Qatar construction accelerated with the announcement it would host the 2022 FIFA World Cup but as oil and gas prices sank, so too did the coffers, leading to lay-offs across both private and public companies.
The state-run Qatar Petroleum made at least 1,500 foreign workers redundant in a recent restructuring, said Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Qatar’s energy and industry minister.
“We did not start with the idea of