Browsing 'SCDL' News

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar should “immediately replace” its summer work ban with a new system that better protects laborers from the heat, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a new report.

Since 2007, it has been illegal to work outdoors in Qatar during peak hours at the height of summer.

But that doesn’t take into account how hot the weather is in May and September.

Sam Agnew/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Instead, HRW proposed a “climate-based work ban.” This would legally require employers to regularly measure heat, humidity and sunshine levels and prohibit outdoor work when these are too high.

A similar system is already used for Qatar’s World Cup workers, but they account for a small fraction of the country’s 800,000-plus blue-collar labor force.

In a statement, Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East Director, said:

“If Qatar’s World Cup organizers can mandate a climate-based work ban, then the Qatar government can follow its lead as a step towards providing better protection from heat for all workers.”

Migrant deaths

HRW’s push comes as summer winds down in Qatar.

But the report also precedes a meeting by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in November, during which it will decide whether to officially investigate Qatar for alleged “forced labor.”

Also this week, HRW urged greater transparency on migrant workers’ deaths to see if they are heat-related.

Reem Saad

For illustrative purposes only

The age, gender, occupation and cause of death of all migrant workers for the past five years should be published by the government, it said.

Unexplained deaths should be investigated – by autopsy, if necessary, and the real cause of death should be detailed on death certificates, HRW added.

Qatar’s response

In response to the new report, officials in Qatar stressed that the summer work ban is being enforced, and companies have been shut down for violating it.

In a statement, Government Communication Office Director Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani added:

“Qatar is committed to its labor reform program and is constantly reviewing its policies to ensure that migrant workers receive the necessary on-site protections.”

The issues raised by HRW are not exclusive to Qatar.

SCDL

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Other Gulf countries have similar climates, and they too have bans on outdoor work only for a specific, pre-set period of the year.

However, as host of the World Cup in 2022, Qatar faces increased scrutiny by international labor rights groups for its treatment of workers.

World cup workers

There are currently some 800,000 migrant workers on building projects across the country.

Just a fraction of those – around 12,000 or 1.5 percent of the total construction workforce – are employed on World Cup sites, which are regulated by the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy (SCDL).

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This body imposes stricter rules on its contractors regarding the treatment of workers than is required by law.

For example, the SCDL uses a humidex system to regularly measure humidity and temperature, and adjusts work-rest ratios for its workers accordingly.

HRW acknowledged these as “creditable” steps, compared to what it described as “rudimentary and inadequate heat laws” for the vast majority of workers toiling outdoors.

However, even this system does not take into account sunshine levels, which HRW argues can “significantly increases the risk of heat stress.”

Transparency in deaths

HRW also called on Qatar to issue more information on the deaths of migrant workers. This is in line with recommendations made in a 2014 government-commissioned report by law firm DLA Piper.

Transparent data would help assess the true affects of heat stress on outdoor laborers, it argued.

SCDL

Wakrah Stadium workers – for illustrative purposes only

The HRW report states that figures from the embassies of some labor-sending countries (Bangladesh, India and Nepal) show a total of 520 deaths in 2012. Three quarters of these (385) died of unexplained causes.

Other deaths, particularly of workers in their 20s, were attributed to “heart failure,” without describing the cause.

“As Qatar scales up its FIFA World Cup construction projects, authorities need to scale up transparency about worker deaths that could be heat related, and take urgent steps to end risks to workers from heat,” Whitson said.

Sheikh Saif however pointed out that Qatar submitted data on “all work-related deaths” in 2016 to the ILO in March this year.

Thoughts?

All photos courtesy of SCDL

Qatar’s sixth World Cup stadium will mimic the traditional “gahfiya,” the rounded skullcap worn by many men in the Middle East, organizers have announced.

The stadium is shaped like a white bowl and adorned with an intricate pattern.

It’s a nod to the cap that holds the ghutra and aghal in place on the head, forming “a symbol of dignity and independence,” the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said in a statement.

The World Cup venue is the only one designed by a Qatari — architect Ibrahim Jaidah, who also did the Fire Station gallery and the new Ministry of Interior building.

According to SCDL Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi, the new design “embodies everything that unites us as Arabs and Muslims, and is a fitting tribute to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.”

Other upcoming 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar also honor Arab traditions.

SCDL

Al Bayt Al Khor stadium

For example, the Al Wakrah stadium is designed to look like a dhow, while Al Khor Al Bayt mirrors Bedouin tents and Qatari hospitality.

Stadium specs

The 40,000 seat Al Thumama stadium will host group stage and quarterfinal matches during the tournament.

It is located between E-Ring and F-Ring Roads, or between the Medical Commission and the under-construction Kahramaa Awareness Park.

SCDL

Al Thumama stadium rendering

The venue is being built by a joint Qatar-Turkey venture between Al Jaber Engineering and Tekfen.

Once the World Cup is over, the stadium will be dismantled to house half the number of fans.

It will also become a sporting and leisure hub for the community, featuring a hotel, outdoor training pitches, basketball courts, an aquatic center, running track and community retail space, among others.

Despite the ongoing blockade by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, Qatar’s tight timeline to deliver World Cup stadiums remains on schedule, a senior official said.

The crisis has “caused an inconvenience,” Al Thawadi told Al Jazeera.

But “we have very quickly moved on to plan B, found alternative sources of supply as well as alternative routes of supply…projects are on schedule. No delays have occurred.”

Two designs left

The crown jewel of Qatar’s World Cup will be Lusail Stadium, which will host the opening and final matches of the tournament.

The design for the venue was supposed to be unveiled in early 2017, but this has not yet occurred.

SCDL

Construction at Lusail stadium site

The open-air stadium will be Qatar’s largest, and is expected to seat some 80,000 football fans during the tournament.

Like the Al Thumama stadium, it is eying a 2020 completion.

The design for Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud venue also remains a mystery for now.

 

Thoughts?

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Two Qatari firms have been brought on to build several training sites around the country ahead of the 2022 World Cup, organizers have announced.

The sites are expected to be located in the vicinities of the Aspire Zone, Qatar University, Doha Golf Course, Al Sailiya and West Bay, among other areas.

They will be used by visiting national football teams as they get ready to compete in the 2022 tournament.

Nakheel Landscapes and Gulf Contracting have been awarded the contracts for the project, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) announced this week.

So far, the number of training grounds has not been determined.

But FIFA has instructed Russia to build 36 of them ahead of next year’s World Cup. That’s three for each of its 12 stadiums.

Russian LOC via FIFA

Mordovia Arena – Saransk, Russia – April 2017

So far, Qatar is planning on having eight stadiums ready for its World Cup in 2022.

In a statement, Yasir Al Jamal, vice chairman of the Technical Delivery Office at the SCDL, said:

“We’re delighted to begin work on this exciting project, which will guarantee state-of-the-art training facilities for all teams that participate in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Our goal is to offer the visiting teams the ideal conditions so that they can be at their best level during the tournament, while also building facilities which will offer lasting legacy opportunities for the local community.”

Requirements

According to organizers, the training sites must be completed to FIFA specifications by 2019.

That means Qatar residents will likely see even more construction over the next few years.

The venues must meet several requirements.

Isabell Schulz/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to FIFA’s criteria for Russia, these include high-quality pitches; a press center that holds at least 100 people; dressing rooms; parking; and spectator areas that accommodate at least 500 fans.

The SCDL said Nakheel Landscapes will build all the training site facilities, including site infrastructure and FIFA-compliant pitches. It will also handle landscaping.

Meanwhile, Gulf Contracting will oversee specialist works for “modular, demountable and pre-fabricated buildings to be used as ancillary facilities and changing rooms.”

Getting ready

With five years to before the World Cup in Qatar, organizers are already hard at work readying eight stadiums for the tournament, including six built completely from scratch.

Its first stadium, Khalifa International, opened to the public this month with great fanfare after undergoing renovations to become World Cup ready.

SCDL

Khalifa International Stadium – 2022 FIFA World Cup venue

The next venues to be completed will be in Al Wakrah and Al Khor (Al Bayt) at the end of next year, with Al Rayyan and Qatar Foundation to follow in 2019.

The designs for the three remaining stadiums in Lusail, Ras Abu Aboud and Al Thumama have yet to be released.

But those buildings should be done by the end of 2020, organizers previously said.

Thoughts?