Qatar labor officials have approved work visa applications for 50,000 Bangladeshis in a move that would further bolster one of Qatar’s largest expat communities, officials at Bangladesh’s embassy in Doha have said.
At the same time, a Bangladeshi minister has announced that Qatar agreed to force local companies to only hire nationals who are registered in a government database in their home country.
The move would theoretically reduce the role of recruiters, who often charge migrants illegal fees and make false salary promises.
The announcements follow a visit to Qatar by Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Bangladesh’s minister for expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment, late last month.
Speaking to Doha News today, embassy officials said the 50,000 individuals already have job offers in Qatar, but had been waiting for the government here to approve their applications.
Most will be working in the construction sector and will gradually arrive over the next three months, officials said.
“We’re happy to provide more workers,” Bangladeshi ambassador Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker told Doha News.
He said the fact that most of his country’s citizens are Muslim and have a reputation for being hard workers and quick to learn new languages is “prompting Qatar to recruit in larger numbers” from his home country.
Community in context
There are approximately 220,000 Bangladeshis living in Qatar, making it the fourth-largest expat community behind India, Nepal and the Philippines.
Embassy officials said between 7,000 and 8,000 new Bangladeshis come to Qatar each month, but it is not clear how quickly the community is growing here, because figures for how many people return home each month were not available.
Between 60 to 70 percent work of the expats work in the construction sector. The remainder includes engineers, managers, Islamic scholars and approximately 9,000 domestic workers, according to Mohammed Serajul Islam, the embassy’s labor counselor.
Speaking to Doha News, he said there has been a push to bring over more doctors, nurses and other professionals.
“Every year, thousands of (young people) graduate in our country,” Islam said.
Last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that despite having a relatively low overall unemployment rate of 5 percent, the jobless rate among recent university graduates in Bangladesh is a staggering 47 percent.
That rate is not uniform across all disciplines, as those who hold engineering and other technical degrees are generally in higher demand.
Helping those individuals find work abroad allows them to apply their education, gain experience and boost Bangladesh’s economy. However, salaries for its citizens in Qatar remain relatively low.
Like India, Nepal and several other countries, Bangladesh has negotiated minimum wage provisions with the Qatar government for its nationals.
Domestic workers must receive QR900 a month while individuals working in unskilled position are entitled to QR1,000 a month, according to Islam. Semi-skilled workers must be paid at least QR1,200, he added.
Skilled workers generally earn more than manual laborers, which enables them to send more money home. The World Bank estimates that remittances made up 9.2 percent of Bangladesh’s GDP in 2013.
Between July 2013 and June 2014, overseas workers sent more than US$14.23 billion home, according to the Bangladesh Central Bank.
Some local recruitment firms have previously told Doha News that it’s common for migrant construction workers in Qatar to sign two contracts, each containing different salary figures.
One would state the minimum wage needed to secure a visa, while the other would contain a lower number that the worker actually receives.
Islam said he did not believe that this form of contract substitution occurs among Bangladeshi expats in Qatar.
He said the embassy receives one or two complaints from its expats a day, which he characterizes as “not high,” given the size of the Bangladeshi population in Qatar.
He added that the most common grievance comes from individuals who have paid unscrupulous recruiters in Qatar for work visas that never materialized for friends or family members back home.
He said he’s visited several labor camps in the Industrial Area, where human rights advocates have frequently documented overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.
However, Islam said he was “satisfied with what we saw” at the camps he inspected.
His comments were echoed by his ambassador when asked by Doha News about ongoing reports of sponsors mistreating and not paying low-income migrants.
“We have not received any serious allegations from our people,” Khundoker said. “No country is perfect … (but) Qatar’s efforts are very sincere to give a better life to the workers.”
Islam said reducing migration costs for individuals, primarily by eliminating “intermediaries and brokers” who facilitate the recruitment process, is one of the priorities for the embassy’s labor department.
To this end, Hossain – Bangladesh’s minister for expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment – said he successfully convinced Qatar’s labor minister to force local companies who hire his country’s citizens to go through a centralized government system.
Bangladesh’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training allows individuals interested in working abroad to register their details in a digital database that is then made available to recruiters in foreign countries.
The hope is that the system would reduce opportunities for recruiters to charge migrants illegal fees, which often forces individuals to borrow money to finance their trip abroad.
“To remove middlemen in the host country such as Qatar, I proposed to Qatar’s Minister of Labour to recruit Bangladeshi labour directly through the embassy of Bangladesh so that Qatari employers can access the database of 2.2 million job seekers for employment and he agreed,” Hossain told the Qatar Tribune.
Amnesty International researcher James Lynch told Doha News that he had not seen a copy of the proposal. However, he said any efforts to make the recruitment process more transparent and reduce the involvement of middlemen is a welcome step.
“It is well-known that across the Gulf, many Bangladeshi workers arrive having been deceived and having paid some of the highest recruitment fees among any nationality.”
Even more traffic on the morning commute. Sweet!
Yes keep pinning the blame on low-wage income workers for the heavy
traffic, it’s not like they own 2-3 cars each.
Not blaming them at all. I am only suggesting that if these new workers all took the bus to work, 50,000 new people travelling on an average bus that holds 52 seats would require roughly 960 additional buses on the road twice a day. At some point, the traffic will be so congested, I would surmise it will have a detrimental impact to construction. Just my thoughts…
Have you ever stopped adjacent to a workers bus on the way back home. These guys look like they are ready to collapse….just an observation.
I know, Right! How come the buses don’t have the windows painted so that we don’t have to see these tired, worn-out, seldom smiling individuals. I mean, it was almost OK when the traffic was not so bad and we could go speeding by them. However, now, with the congestion on the roads, they can stare down at us for what seem like AGES!
“He said he’s visited several labor camps in the Industrial Area, where human rights advocates have frequently documented overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.
However, Islam said he was “satisfied with what we saw” at the camps he inspected.”
We all know what the ‘living’ conditions are like. They might seem okay to them because the workers come from such a poor place and a lot of villages probably lack basics like plumbing
but this is Qatar, we have no excuse. We all know what kinda rundown, stained concrete blocks they’re all holed up in.
They are sub standard, they are not maintained well, their hygiene is at best questionable.
Maybe they need an epidemic to convince them…
“Qatar deserves the best”; isn’t that what we get told when we drive down the new roads?
I’m not going to lie to you, we are a very closed off, very committed and very tight knit community. That stuff is aimed at us and is only applicable to us Qataris and whatever expats that have stayed long enough and liked enough to get similar treatment. Everyone else is seen as transitory, here for money or whatever and they get it and leave.
I’m not going to blame because tbh, there’s a lot fo reasoning behind it and I can’t fault my countrymen for leariness towards foreigners.
I appreciate your honesty, and I can see that there’s a difference between having the best roads for people to drive on, and the best labor camps for expatriate laborers to live in.
However, I wonder how you can expect ‘the best’ malls, residential and commercial towers, airports, bridges, roads etc when they are being built by, and let’s be blunt, some the cheapest manpower that can be found anywhere in the world, who are housed in overcrowded conditions?
As I’ve said in the past – I’ve now lived here long enough to witness C-ring road being ‘fixed’ twice, and repeatedly you see the ‘quality’ of what is delivered, and it’s shameful.
The roads here are never gonna last as long as any other roads in any other counties. All roads need maintenance, regardless, here more so.
The reason why roads here need more than anywhere else in the world is because we have soooooooo many massive trucks, carrying immense amount of cargo and 4×4 cars that have an abundance of torque ripping up the asphalt from the ground 24/7 7 days a week
Our greatest failing as a nation is not building a railroad. Is not supplying enough infrastructure to people who work in construction and similar sectors e.g manual labor.
Most countries have locals, actual citizens(voters) that do these jobs, we don’t. We do not imagine on ever working these jobs, we don’t entertain the thought, we do not imagine the possibility,we are oblivious to it and this what cripples us as a nation
That said, it is important to note that road issues here are not necessarily the result of bad work by cheap labourers. Most of the time, it is the result of bad planning and decision-making by well-paid locals (and sometimes expats). Just look at the Al Meena Street stretching from Ras Abu Aboud signal to the Doha Port signal at the Corniche. The last part of it near the Movenpick hotel has been done and redone more than 3 times. It is now still closed and I still don’t understand what the hell they are planning to do there 🙂
What do you mean your countrymen are not to blame, of course they are, you people are taught from when you’re young to think of all of us (expats) as your servants, its psychologically ingrained in you guys. Let’s see where that will get you guys.
That was not what I was talking about.. I was talking about financial perks.
Qatar Deserves Best. Workers Deserve Worst. Hmmm make sense these days.
Can you please edit this comment to take out the swearing? Have found a few of your posts in pending that Disqus put there automatically due to language. Thanks!
It’s not my fault I’m oppressed by the system.
The pictures posted with this article are a ESH inspectors nightmare. I hope that’s not the situation in reality, otherwise I am forced to believe that a lot of site incidents are not just due to heat exhaustion.
And here’s the kicker…
”We’re happy to provide more workers,” Bangladeshi ambassador Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker told Doha News.
He said the fact that most of his country’s citizens are Muslim and have a reputation for being hard workers and quick to learn new languages is “prompting Qatar to recruit in larger numbers” from his home country.”
The Ambassador has a nice looking office. I bet it is air conditioned too.
Is it true that “Qatar” sounds like “Hotel California” in Bengali?
nothing says health and safety like the top photo!
It’s not a sedentary lifestyle, so, it’s healthy.
That’s 550 people a day. Are they coming by boat?
Two flights a day are more than enough for this number.
So basically Bangladesh are nationalizing the corruption. They are stopping agents taking fees from these poor people so the government agents can gorge on kickbacks. The only people that win out of this are the politicians.
Hoping these 50K bangladeshis will be paid correctly, having the right contract. I hope no more news for rallying workers and breaking the Site offices and cars of their companies due to animal treatment. sigh