Browsing 'layoffs' News

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More than 600 independent school employees in Qatar were terminated from their jobs this week, according to local media reports.

Many of the positions will be Qatarized ahead of the new school year, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education told principals in a circular, Al Sharq reports.

A list of Qatari candidates has already been put forth to fill the vacated slots. There are mostly in administrative positions.

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The newspaper added that the terminations have caught many school directors by surprise, especially because staff and teachers were given such short notice.

Crucial timing

However, a senior education ministry official said the timing was to give those who were laid off a chance to look for other jobs.

Schools also need enough time to hire replacements, the official said, according to Al Raya.

Remake Learning

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Of the 650 people affected, about 15 percent – or 100 people – are teachers, the newspaper added.

Others include social workers, school bus monitors and administrative supervisors.

Some were contract workers, and many had already reached legal retirement age.

New school system

The layoffs come as Qatar is preparing to overhaul its education system so that it takes a more centralized approach.

Currently, government-funded independent schools operate with more autonomy.

But under a new law signed off on by the Emir earlier this month, the education ministry will serve as the authority regarding curriculum, staffing, school calendars, fees and disciplinary action.

Thoughts?

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The recent exit of thousands of professional expats from Qatar has been hurting many businesses here, company CEOs have told Reuters.

Some mall owners are now dropping rents to attract tenants, hotel rooms are reducing prices and shops and restaurants that rely on Qatar’s middle class for trade are closing due to a lack of demand, the report said.

Although Qatar’s population remains fairly steady at around 2.5 million people for now, companies have been laying off thousands of well-paid expats over the past two years, in response to falling oil prices.

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Reem Saad / Doha News

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Meanwhile, the number of blue-collar laborers working on large infrastructure projects continues to grow.

But while these workers are vital to Qatar’s development plans, they do not have the spending power required to keep many businesses afloat.

Large-scale layoffs

In the past two years, several companies here have laid off significant numbers of staff.

Qatar Petroleum (QP) made an estimated 3,000 redundant in 2015, and its subsidiary RasGas and Danish oil company Maersk also cut hundreds more jobs.

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Lesley Walker / Doha News

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Meanwhile in January, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) culled more than 1,000 positions from its payroll, and in March, Al Jazeera laid off 500 members of staff across its networks.

Many of these workers were professionals who had brought their families with them to Qatar, and so each employee who leaves Qatar takes several more people with them.

This has a knock-on effect on schools, shops and restaurants, which rely on these families for business.

Too many malls

Amid the exodus of white-collar professionals, several new shopping centers will be opening in Qatar in the coming months, including the Mall of Qatar (October 2016) and Doha Festival City (February 2017).

Their entrance into the market comes as retail experts forecast an oversupply of space and increased vacancy.

Mall of Qatar construction as of March 2016

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Mall of Qatar construction as of March 2016

Mohammed Al-Emadi, whose new luxury mall Al Hazm opens next month, conceded that a glut of retail offerings may pose a problem for Qatar.

He told Reuters that he believes his project will be unaffected as it is aimed at an “elite” clientele, but other malls aimed at middle-class shoppers are struggling:

“Ten to 12 malls are currently being built in Qatar and soon they will open,” Emadi said, adding that some mall owners were having to drop rent prices to attract tenants.

“This is not a good sign. In the current economy … the market can’t handle any more malls.”

Have you noticed things changing in Qatar? Thoughts?

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Omar Chatriwala

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In the latest round of layoffs to affect Qatar, global telecoms provider Ooredoo Group has confirmed it is cutting around 100 local jobs as part of a corporate review to “optimize” its operations.

The group, which is headquartered in Doha, employs more than 10,000 staff world-wide and has operations in Algeria, Kuwait, Oman and several other countries. The latest cuts amount to around 1 percent of its global workforce, a spokesperson said in a statement to Doha News.

All the jobs affected are based in Qatar, however no Qatari nationals would be affected in this round of layoffs, the spokesperson said.

The announcement follows a management shakeup in November when Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani became chief executive, replacing Nasser Mohammed Marafih, who had held the title for nine years.

The reorganization also led to other changes in the company’s senior leadership team. Waleed Mohamed Al-Sayed was appointed deputy group CEO as well as the chief executive of Ooredoo Qatar. Meanwhile, Yousuf Abdulla Al Kubaisi filled Al-Sayed’s old position as Ooredoo Qatar’s chief operations officer.

This reshuffling came in the wake of several disappointing financial quarters.

Corporate review

Before deciding on layoffs, an Ooredoo spokesperson said the company conducted a “review of the organization and strategy” following the appointment of the new management team, which was described as “normal practice.”

“Following the review, we have recognized a number of opportunities to increase synergies across the Group and optimize our operations.

This will involve the phasing out of certain business functions at a Group level, particularly those that were created for the launch of the Ooredoo brand in 2013 and related support activities,” the statement said.

Employees affected will be given the chance to apply for other positions within the group as well as the organization’s local operations.

“As an ongoing review, we are rebalancing our skill sets and resources within the Group and local operating companies to better serve our customers and deliver better returns for our shareholders,” the organization added.

Group profits flat

The company’s confirmation of layoffs emerged as Ooredoo released its 2015 financial results this week.

Ooredoo Qatar HQ

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Ooredoo Qatar HQ

Within Qatar, the telecom firm posted double-digit gains in customers, revenues and earnings. Its net profit was QR2.14 billion last year, up 11 percent over 2014.

But Ooredoo could not replicate that strong performance outside of its home market. The company’s net profit attributable to shareholders was flat at QR2.12 billion, down 1 percent from 2014.

The company said its results were hurt by the security situation in Iraq as well as adverse currency movements in Indonesia, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Have you been affected by the layoffs? Thoughts?