Despite the major changes, western media outlets have repeatedly released reports with what Qatari authorities have described as sensationalised headlines.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took aim at the unfair criticism of the Gulf state by the west over its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
This came during his speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Monday in Davos, in which the amir tapped into attacks launched against the Gulf state for being the first in the Middle East to host the major sporting event.
“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered, from discrimination. And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us,” said Sheikh Tamim.
Qatar has faced international scrutiny by the west over the situation of its migrant workers and lack of laws to protect them. However, the Gulf state has introduced historic reform in an effort to ensure the rights of workers are respected.
Some of those included the dismantling of the controversial Kafala system that stopped workers to freely change jobs. Another is the region’s first ever non-discriminatory minimum wage law, introduced last year.
Doha has also been working closely with the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) along with other international bodies that have assisted it in improving the local work environments.
“These individuals, including many in positions of influence, have launched attacks at a pace never seen before when a mega-sporting event was hosted by other countries on different continents,” said the amir, noting that those countries have their own set of issues and challenges.
Despite the major changes, western media outlets have repeatedly released reports with what Qatari authorities have described as sensationalised headlines. Rights groups such as Amnesty have also stated that employers have appeared to find loopholes into the law, calling on authorities to further implement the new regulations.
Since winning the bid to host the World Cup, several European countries launched boycott campaigns, a move that was not seen in other countries accused of flagrant human rights violations, including Brazil and Russia.
“[Qatar is] constantly trying to improve, and full of hope, for a brighter future. We are so proud of the development, reform, and progress we have made, and we are grateful for the spotlight that the World Cup provided,” said the amir.
Sheikh Tamim added that the World Cup has enabled Qatar inspired the latest labour law changes “at lightening-speed.”
“I assure everyone listening, that this edition of the World Cup, will be a special one. We believe that sport is a tool, for positive change, promotes tolerance and respect, empowers-youth, and inspires unity,” he said.
To better assist workers, the ministry of labour had launched a new platform for workers’ complaints in May 2021. This enables employees to submit public violations of the labour law.
More than 2,000 labour complaints were filed with the ministry against firms and institutions across the country in December alone, leading to mass fines and punitive action.