How many Nepalese are currently working in Qatar now? Neither the Nepalese government nor the Qatari government has the fixed answer to this question as there are thousands of people who come to work here in Qatar illegally without following the government’s normal legal procedures. It is unofficially estimated that more than 260,000 Nepalese have been working here in Qatar. With no doubt, Qatar has emerged as a rapidly growing economy in recent years and, for some rare and lucky Nepalese jobseekers, a prospective destination for earning good money.
How is the situation of the Nepalese workers here in Qatar? It’s a serious question but the answer is apparent: very bad. The vast majority of Nepalese working here in Qatar have been badly cheated. The series of the cheating beings from Nepal on the hand of manpower agencies located in the capital and other towns. Most of the entry visas have been made for free for the job seekers in Qatar. However, manpower agencies exploit the poor by demand
ing a huge sum of money to proceed for the foreign employment ranging from NRs. 80,000 to NRs. 120,000 resulting in massive debts to the job seeker’s family. They are made to sign in attractive contracts in Nepal and eventually after coming here they are made to sign in another contract with meager salaries and benefits. The families go into the serious debt in an anticipation of paying it off within a year and in bettering the family’s economic status quickly after that. However, in most cases it takes more than a year for an average Nepalese worker to pay off the debt that one took to come over here. Since most of the Nepalese workers working here in Qatar are low skilled workers and laborers, it’s easy for the employers to deceive them as they are not aware of the rights and the benefits they are supposed to enjoy here. The average salary for the Nepalese workers here is QR400 and in most cases they are made pay the visa fee of 100 Riyals per month by deducting from their salary. This adds salt into the injury of low paid workers.
Most of the Nepalese working here in Qatar are low paid, assigned most difficult of tasks. They have to work hard in the temperature of 40-50 degree Celsius. Yet are often not paid in time and they hardly can save money to pay off their debt in time. There are many cases when they are not given back their passport and air ticket to go back to the native country. They are forced to keep on working hard without any payment and only few of them can manage to escape and take refuge at the embassy. Those who manage to escape and chose to work illegally also have to face a very miserable life. According to those workers they earn 50 to 60 riyals a day if they work seeking the job themselves but have to work hard on the road construction in such a hot climate of Qatar. On the other hand, these jobs are intermittent and come without accommodation, which eats away most of their income. Qatar is very expensive when it come to the food and lodging.
This is not to say that the workers working in industrial areas and staying in the labor camps are better off. In fact they are living a more horrible life. Lack of proper sanitation, several workers cooped up in tiny rooms without proper ventilation and the complete absence of health care facilities has made life a living hell for them. There are many workers who have been staying idle without any job and without any payment, they want to go back to their native countries regardless of the large sum of debts they have there in Nepal but the employer doesn’t easily send them back because of the expense incurred in it. The situation of the stranded workers is much more pathetic, having been abandoned by their sponsors, they are not only unemployed rather are left without any legal documents to continue staying here.
Though there is not an accurate data on how many Nepalese women are working here in Qatar, there are many working as housemaids. Their stories are also riddled with complaints of being not paid the wages and being physically abused.
Despite of being low paid, ill treated, not paid in time, going back to Nepal is not an option considering the unemployment situation in Nepal and the serious debt and family obligations. This forces them to suffer continued exploitation by the employer. Furthermore, most workers can’t speak and understand Arabic and English. This difficulty in communication has compounded this problem further. Lack of technical skills is another major problem for Nepalese to get good positioned jobs here in Qatar.
Despite of several high official visits paid by the Nepalese authorities and despite having signed memorandum of understanding and additional labor protocol, the improvement hasn’t been seen in the lives of Nepalese workers here in Qatar. Nepal ranks the first country in providing the man power to Qatar in meeting its growing need for manpower. Despite that no notable steps have been taken in order to facilitate Nepalese workers.
However, all those above mentioned facts don’t mean that there are not good opportunities in Qatar. It is in fact a country with tremendous opportunities provided that training of languages and applicable skills, and awareness of rights and responsibilities, are given in Nepal before their departure. Strong rules and laws need to be formulated and implemented to monitor and control the recruitment of Nepalese manpower by the manpower agencies. The maximum limit of recruitment fee should be fixed by the government and the violators should be punished without any hesitation to promote and protect the Nepalese workers working in Qatar who are contributing largely the nation’s economy.
Project Category: Project: Rural Education Nepal
Article Category: Memoir
Author: Deepak Pandey
About Author: Deepak Pandey is an english teacher in Nepal who carries a vision to make his students understand english and not just memorize words and sentences.
Submission Date: March 05, 2008