“I think we need to seriously think of abolishing the exit permit system, fixing minimum wages in various sectors, appointing welfare officers at all companies and also gradually allow the freedom to change jobs.”
– Dr. Ahmed Al Mohannadi, Editor-in-Chief of local sports magazine Doha Stadium Plus, in a new op-ed asserting that Qatar must “do more” to shore up its expat workers’ rights.
Unlike many locals, including those working in Qatar’s human rights organizations, Al Mohannadi did not dispute the veracity of recent media reports about poor working and living conditions among low-income construction workers here.
Instead, he focused on the negative impact human rights abuses are having on the country’s image, adding that laws in place to protect the vulnerable don’t appear to be working:
“Of course, in sectors like oil and gas, we can take pride for ensuring international standards, but in several others, the existing laws proved ineffective and we haven’t enacted new ones.”
To remedy the situation, he called on Qatar to amend its restrictive kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties employees to their sponsors, whose approval must be sought to buy a car, change jobs or even leave the country for vacation.
He concluded by saying:
“Let’s start doing what’s necessary and then do what’s possible. Then, I’m sure we can do the impossible and the whole world will applaud us.”
Credit: Photo courtesy of Doha Stadium Plus