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Nepal’s Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat meets Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim

Qatar should build temporary shelters for Nepalis who are having work problems and set up a better mechanism for these expats to complain when they aren’t paid by employers.

That’s the advice a senior delegation of Nepali officials gave Qataris during a visit to Doha last week, according to Ekantipur.

Some 350,000 Nepalis work in Qatar, mostly in blue-collar positions. They comprise the country’s second-largest demographic group, after Indians.

Richard Messenger/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

During his visit to Doha last week, Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat met with the Emir as well as his Qatari counterpart.

He also spoke with the labor minister, discussing with all three the “safety and wellbeing of Nepali migrant workers,” according to Nepal’s embassy in Doha.

Solutions

According to Nepali officials, chief complaints among workers include not being paid on time.

Qatar has been working to address this issue with the rollout of the wage protection system, which mandates that employers pay out salaries via direct bank transfer.

But many construction companies have been struggling with this system.

More than a dozen men wait to use the ATMs at City Center Mall.

Shabina S. Khatri

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Mahat also raised the issue of grievances, pointing out that the current process of lodging a complaint against one’s employer is too long and convoluted.

This however is also being addressed.

A few months ago, Qatar’s Cabinet approved the idea of setting up a labor resolution committee that addresses worker disputes within three weeks.

It is unclear when these will actually be set up, however.

New shelters

In the meantime, Mahat urged Qatar to construct shelters for Nepalis seeking refuge from abusive employers.

He also suggested that officials set up an institute in Nepal to produce trained and skilled manpower, and increase the quota for such workers.

For its part, QNA said Mahat and officials discussed “bilateral relations and ways of promoting them.”

But according to Ekantipur, Qatari officials were receptive of the suggestions and “assured all possible assistance.”

Thoughts?

3dom/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The Philippines ambassador to Doha, Wilfredo C. Santos, will leave next week after less than two years in Qatar.

Santos is taking up a new ambassadorial post in Iran.

According to embassy staff who spoke to Doha News, his departure has been “expected” since the Philippines elected a new president last year.

Philippines Embassy San Francisco

Wilfredo Santos, Philippine Ambassador to Qatar.

In May, Rodrigo Duterte won the public vote. It is common for newly elected presidents to shuffle diplomatic staff and make new appointments.

Santos’ replacement will be Alan L. Timbayan, an experienced diplomat who previously served as Philippines Labor Attaché in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.

A ‘heavy heart’

Santos moved to Qatar in April 2015 to assume his first ambassadorship position.

In an interview with the Gulf Times about his departure, the official said he was leaving with a “heavy heart,” but taking “wonderful experiences and excellent memories” with him.

Qatar News Agency

Wilfredo C. Santos meeting Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani before his departure

Asked about the highlights of his time in Qatar, Santos named his meetings with the Emir as some of the most memorable experiences.

He added that he was proud of the launch of Kulinarya Qatar, an embassy initiative promoting Philippines culture and tourism through its cuisine.

Santos also paid tribute to the Filipino community in Qatar, which is one of the largest demographic groups in the country.

“What I like about the Filipino community in Qatar is that it is self-regulating and professional,” he told the Gulf Times.

“It runs on its own with minimal direction from the embassy. Whoever will head the embassy is fortunate, as I have been fortunate, because of the mutual respect and strong partnership between the embassy and the community.”

Filipinos account for more than 260,000 of this country’s residents, third in number only to the local Indian and Nepali communities.

New ambassador

Although Ambassador Santos is departing next week, no date has yet been set for the arrival of his replacement, 75-year-old Alan L. Timbayan.

Philippines Embassy, Qatar

Alan Timbayan

He has extensive experience as a diplomat, but this will be the official’s first post as ambassador.

Timbayan, who holds a master’s degree in Islamic Studies, has worked in Qatar before.

During his tenure as labor attaché in Riyadh in 1990-1994, he also acted as labor attaché in Qatar, as his country did not yet have an embassy in Doha.

Timbayan was nominated as Qatar Ambassador by President Duterte last September. But an embassy staffer told Doha News that he has yet to receive his official approval from the Qatari government to begin his new post.

Thoughts?

Wikicommons

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines will likely visit Qatar in the first half of 2017, the country’s ambassador to Qatar has said.

Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, Ambassador Wilfredo Santos said the embassy was told to prepare for a visit from the nation’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

This will then lay the groundwork for Duterte’s trip to Qatar.

“It has been four years since the last high-level visit between the two countries. It is time for the president of the Philippines to visit Qatar which is an economic powerhouse,” Santos told the newspaper.

Duterte this week came under fire after a United Nations official said he should be investigated for murder.

The comment from the UN high commissioner for human rights came after Duterte recently remarked that he had shot and killed three men as mayor of Davao.

Despite the controversy he draws, the official has strong support in Qatar, where the majority of expats cast their overseas ballots for him.

Growing community

When he arrives, there will be much to discuss regarding Qatar’s third-largest demographic community, behind Indians and Nepalis.

There are now more than 220,000 Filipinos in Qatar, an 18 percent increase from last year.

This is in part due to Qatar’s dependence on domestic labor. But job contracts in other categories are also being approved in high numbers, officials previously said.

According to Santos, education, culture, health and tourism will all be on the agenda during Duterte’s visit.

Thoughts?