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Now ye're talking - to a man living in Qatar

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,314 ✭✭✭KyussB


    Firstly, let me say that you are entitled to whatever beliefs you think are appropriate for you. I have no response, immediate or otherwise, to your beliefs. I will however discuss workers rights. You may not like or agree with what I say - but it is not propaganda, it is fact.

    Secondly, you can certainly make the argument that any Westerner who moves to countries like Qatar or the UAE are complicit in the human rights atrocities committed by the local regime, but if you are to be fair you must also accept that anyone who buys a shirt made in the sweatshops of Bangladesh, or owns a smartphone with cobalt mined by children in DRC, or drinks lattes made from coffee harvested by wage slaves is equally complicit in those human rights atrocities. The world is enormously unfair and all of us white western posters on Boards.ie live lives that depend upon the exploitation of others.

    We tend not to see the connections between out lifestyles and the exploitation of others because that exploitation takes place far away from us. Perhaps the difference in the Middle East is that the wealthy and the poor live side by side.

    By the way my salary is not paid for by slave labour, my salary is paid from the emormous wealth of the State of Qatar, which in turn is based on the fact that they happen to share with Iran the largest natural gas field in the world.
    ...
    Do you not think there is a difference between having no choice except to participate in a globalized economy (as nearly all economies are like that) - versus choosing specifically to move to and participate in an economy that is known for its human rights abuses?

    It's cut-and-dry morally: Globalization is not an individual choice, your situation is an individual choice - and by any credible framework of moral reasoning, is objectively morally worse.

    Normally people who are aware of the ethical problems of globalization don't use them as an excuse to ignore other ethical problems or draw false equivalencies...


    The wealth of Qatar is literally built upon forced labor. The industry and refineries generating that wealth don't just build themselves...

    You have a very selective awareness about the subtle complicities of globalization when it suits you, and the suddenly none about the complicities of the Qatari states wealth that you're paid from, even after you've already demonstrated that you should be aware of that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo


    Hi and thank you for the question.

    The reason why I live in Qatar is the exact same reason why the 90% of residents who are not Qatari citizens live here - because it offered better opportunities (especially salary) for me and my family than I had in my home country (in my case, Ireland).

    I am happy to talk about what I know about human rights issues, but it is a huge subject, so is there something specific that you have in mind?

    From seeing a few of your answers on human rights/womans rights, you seem to be of the belief that if it doesn't effect you, it doesn't matter. What do you think about the 6500+ migrant workers who have died building the WC stadia? The stories of migrants being brought in and their passports taken from them so they are trapped on sites etc with no way of escaping?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo


    Firstly, let me say that you are entitled to whatever beliefs you think are appropriate for you. I have no response, immediate or otherwise, to your beliefs. I will however discuss workers rights. You may not like or agree with what I say - but it is not propaganda, it is fact.

    Secondly, you can certainly make the argument that any Westerner who moves to countries like Qatar or the UAE are complicit in the human rights atrocities committed by the local regime, but if you are to be fair you must also accept that anyone who buys a shirt made in the sweatshops of Bangladesh, or owns a smartphone with cobalt mined by children in DRC, or drinks lattes made from coffee harvested by wage slaves is equally complicit in those human rights atrocities. The world is enormously unfair and all of us white western posters on Boards.ie live lives that depend upon the exploitation of others.

    We tend not to see the connections between out lifestyles and the exploitation of others because that exploitation takes place far away from us. Perhaps the difference in the Middle East is that the wealthy and the poor live side by side.

    By the way my salary is not paid for by slave labour, my salary is paid from the emormous wealth of the State of Qatar, which in turn is based on the fact that they happen to share with Iran the largest natural gas field in the world.

    So, turning then to the construction that is taking place in Qatar (including the Stadia - though that is just a small part of the total). I think that it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend the scale of the construction work that is taking place in Qatar. The Qataris are currently spending half a billion dollars a week on infrastructure. There is a new airport, harbour, Metro, motorways, 5G systems, public parks, sewage systems, water desalination plants, district cooling plants and dozens of new hotels. The infrastructure is far ahead of any European city that I can think of, all done in 20 years or so.

    My work relates (at a tangent at least) to the insurance industry and so I am (to some degree) familiar with death rates, and statistics about the levels of accidents in the workplace etc.

    Some media commentators (and I think the Guardian leads the charge here) frequently refer to the thousands of migrant workers who have dies since Qatar was awarded the World Cup. For example:

    Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since World Cup awarded
    Guardian analysis indicates shocking figure over the past decade likely to be an underestimate
    www.theguardian.com

    Let's accept the number of 6,500 as a fact.

    The population of Qatar is 2.9m of which only about 300,000 are Qatari. Only the Qataris can stay in Qatar indefinitely so the other 2.5m (including me) are migrant workers. But let us assume that we're talking about "blue-collar" workers only. Approx 69.7% of the migrant workers in Qatar are "blue-collar":
    (PDF) Demography, Migration, and Labour Market in Qatar- UPDATED June 2017.

    That gives us 1.8m manual workers - mostly from South East Asia - India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

    The article mentions that Filipinos and Kenyans are not included in its death tally. Most Filipinos speak English very well and are typically employed in the retail and services sectors - with some working as home help. I have never seen a Filipino doing unskilled manual labour. Most Kenyans also speak English and seem to be usually employed (male and female) as security guards - I have never seen a Kenyan doing unskilled manual labour. The Filipinos (approx 250,000) are therefore typically not in the "blue-collar" category. There are approx 30,000 Kenyans - I'm not sure how they are classified but that number does not materially impact on things.

    So returning to the number of deaths - 6,500 over 10 years = 650 per annum. Let's also reduce the number of manual workers from 1.8m to 1.5m because numbers have probably increased over the past couple of years.

    That gives us 650 deaths per year from a population of 1.5m males (aged typically from 25 - 55) from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

    That in turn gives us a death rate of 43 per 100,000. In the United States the death rate for men between the ages of 25 and 55 is 306.

    Another factor that should lead to a higher number for Qatari manual labourers is that most are engaged in the construction sector, which in every country has a higher accident and death rate than for all employments aggregated.

    On the other side of the scales we should remember that the American numbers count everyone in the United States of that age group whereas the Qatar migrants numbers relate only to men who were fit to work and who passed a health and blood test - for example, anyone with TB or AIDS is not allowed in.

    Nevertheless, bringing all of this together, the real story here is not why is the death rate among Qatar migrant manual workers so high, but why is it so low?

    There are a couple of factors:
    • The first reason is that all of the workers who come to Qatar (including me) must pass a health check. So anyone with a serious underlying condition or illness cannot work in Qatar, and that is definitely skewing the numbers;
    • Secondly employment, accommodation and nutrition standards for manual workers are fairly good in general, perhaps not what the average boards.ie reader might find acceptable, but the average low-skilled South Asian worker, coming from the slums of Dhaka or Lahore, is generally content.
    • Thirdly labour rights and health and safety standards are probably the best in the region - and I know that may not be saying much - but the Qataris appear to be genuinely engaged in this issue. The International Labor Organisation has a permanent office in Qatar and works closely with the Government on issues affecting workers rights. It has to be said that it is a work in progress, but it is moving. ILO Project Office for the State of Qatar (Arab States)
    • And finally there is world-class healthcare system in Qatar, it is available to every resident, and it is free. I am fully vaccinated against Covid. My teenage kids got their first shots last week, and they queued up at a public vaccination station along with workers from every nationality.

    I will make a separate post about the wages paid to manual workers.

    Either your head is in the sand, or you are deliberately whitewashing Qatar's horrendous human rights record.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/world-cup-2022-qatar-s-workers-slaves-building-mausoleums-stadiums-modern-slavery-kafala-a7980816.html


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 7,180 Mod ✭✭✭✭cdeb


    What makes Qatar Qatari?

    Wiki says only about 10% of the population is Qatari, and that there's more Indians, Bangladeshis, Nepalis and Egyptians than Qataris there. It's also something like 2/3rds male. Is there anything that binds the country together and makes it different? How can a native culture survive when it's in a 90% minority? Always thought it was a fascinating place and I've no idea how it all holds together.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,118 ✭✭✭homer911


    What is the Qatari attitude to Christians and the Christian faith - can Christians meet and worship? What denominations are active there?


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  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    KyussB wrote: »
    Do you not think there is a difference between having no choice except to participate in a globalized economy (as nearly all economies are like that) - versus choosing specifically to move to and participate in an economy that is known for its human rights abuses?

    It's cut-and-dry morally: Globalization is not an individual choice, your situation is an individual choice - and by any credible framework of moral reasoning, is objectively morally worse.

    Normally people who are aware of the ethical problems of globalization don't use them as an excuse to ignore other ethical problems or draw false equivalencies...


    The wealth of Qatar is literally built upon forced labor. The industry and refineries generating that wealth don't just build themselves...

    You have a very selective awareness about the subtle complicities of globalization when it suits you, and the suddenly none about the complicities of the Qatari states wealth that you're paid from, even after you've already demonstrated that you should be aware of that.

    Thanks for your contribution. Despite this being an “AMA” thread I can’t actually see any question in your post.

    If you want to have a debate about the merits and demerits of globalisation please start another thread somewhere and I’ll happily join you. You might find that we have more in common than you think. But the debate about globalisation is no more relevant to the situation in Qatar than it is to Ireland or any other country.

    Meanwhile, seeing as you didn’t ask me any questions, let me ask you some:
    1. You say that Qatar is “known for its human rights abuses”. What are you talking about? Would you like to post links to evidence? I’ll be happy to respond if I can;
    2. You say “Normally people who are aware of the ethical problems of globalization don't use them as an excuse to ignore other ethical problems or draw false equivalencies...”. So what do you think is the ‘normal” reaction to the ethical problems of globalisation? For example, have you gotten rid of all your clothes made in sweatshops in Bangladesh? Have you stopped using smartphones that are made using cobalt mined by children in the DRC? Have you stopped drinking coffee harvested by wage slaves?

    You talk about “forced labour” in your post. I cannot say this any more simply than this - There is no forced labour in Qatar. None. Absolutely zero.

    All of the people who work in Qatar, from the lowest manual labourer to the highest paid CEO, came here of their own free will and in the full knowledge of the terms and conditions. There are no gangs of Qataris roaming the streets of Pakistan or Nepal press-ganging people into servitude in the Gulf. The workers from South Asia who are here come from impoverished villages and towns in their home countries, places that have been sending workers to the Gulf for generations. If the economic conditions in their home countries are such that they believe that toiling in the Gulf is a better option for them then is due to the fact that their home countries have failed their citizens. You can’t lay that at the door of the Qataris.

    (I digress, but in some respects I think this situation is a lot like the plight of the Irish navvies who toiled for generations in England).

    There used to be forced labour in Qatar, I have heard it said that when the Emir of Qatar attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 he brought some slaves with him. Actual slaves. There was a general manumission shortly thereafter, and the former slaves were given full Qatari citizenship. If it is forced labour that makes the Qataris rich now, how come they were so desperately poor when they had slaves? The wealth of Qatar is not based on “forced labour” but on the enormous hydrocarbon riches that it possesses. Labourers from Asia do not work in the oil and gas fields in any great numbers. Those resources are extracted by Exxon, Total, Qatar Petroleum etc. And the people who do the extraction are generally well-paid technicians and engineers. You don’t use semi-literate manual workers to build a Liquid Natural Gas plant.

    There are approx 1m manual workers in Qatar, many of whom do work in construction. There are huge infrastructure programmes building highways, a port, 4 Metro lines, desalination plants, sewage treatment plants, area cooling plants, the World Cup stadiums etc. It is on these projects that the majority of manual labourers work. These projects are financed and managed by the government or government agencies.

    The Qataris certainly use cheap labour, but they pay well by the standards of the countries where these workers come from. You say that the “wealth of Qatar is literally built upon forced labor”. I think you could just as easily say that some of the wealth of Qatar ends up putting food on the table for millions of dependents in Asia.

    Let’s say for a moment that you could somehow force the Qataris to quadruple salaries. If you did, they would no longer recruit lower skilled workers from South Asia. The market will find its new equilibrium, and instead the workers would come from comparatively wealthier countries such as Egypt and Morocco.

    The families of the workers in South Asia might not however appreciate the price that they would pay to assuage your sensibilities.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Fandymo wrote: »
    From seeing a few of your answers on human rights/womans rights, you seem to be of the belief that if it doesn't effect you, it doesn't matter. What do you think about the 6500+ migrant workers who have died building the WC stadia? The stories of migrants being brought in and their passports taken from them so they are trapped on sites etc with no way of escaping?

    Hi.

    I addressed the deaths of construction workers at post #43.

    If you have any questions about my post I am happy to try to respond.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    homer911 wrote: »
    What is the Qatari attitude to Christians and the Christian faith - can Christians meet and worship? What denominations are active there?

    Christians can freely practice their faith in Qatar. There is a special zone in the city where non-Muslim faiths can establish churches. I know there is a Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox church.

    Although most Qataris are Sunni Muslims there is also a Shia minority, and they have their own mosques.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    cdeb wrote: »
    What makes Qatar Qatari?

    Wiki says only about 10% of the population is Qatari, and that there's more Indians, Bangladeshis, Nepalis and Egyptians than Qataris there. It's also something like 2/3rds male. Is there anything that binds the country together and makes it different? How can a native culture survive when it's in a 90% minority? Always thought it was a fascinating place and I've no idea how it all holds together.

    The Qataris are descended mainly from the Bedouin tribes that traditionally lived in this area. But there is a broad palette of colours among the people. There are prominent families that trace their roots to Iran (and are consequently paler in colour than the Bedouin) and there are families that are descended from the freed slaves who came, I believe, mainly from the Sudan region (and are consequently darker in colour than the Bedouin).

    The population as a whole is heavily skewed towards males because of the huge numbers of men working in construction at the moment. That may change as the construction come to an end and the construction workers are replaced (if all goes to plan) by more service workers and professionals.

    As for how can a culture survive when it's in a 90% minority? I really don't know - it is something of an experiment. The Qataris do keep to themselves, but the young are accessing the same influences as young people everywhere. They may not want to accept arranged marriages for the sake of preserving culture.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Fandymo wrote: »
    Either your head is in the sand, or you are deliberately whitewashing Qatar's horrendous human rights record.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/world-cup-2022-qatar-s-workers-slaves-building-mausoleums-stadiums-modern-slavery-kafala-a7980816.html

    Hi

    I gave a fairly detailed answer in the post that you referenced, and I'm happy to continue to engage with you, but I would ask you to be respectful and to put a bit of effort into your own posts.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo


    Hi

    I gave a fairly detailed answer in the post that you referenced, and I'm happy to continue to engage with you, but I would ask you to be respectful and to put a bit of effort into your own posts.

    You fairly much whitewashed it in your reply and seem to think it's disrespectful to call you out on it.

    Here's Amnesty's view on it. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/03/qatar-world-cup-of-shame/

    Human Rights Pulse
    https://www.humanrightspulse.com/mastercontentblog/exploitation-of-migrant-workers-ahead-of-the-2022-qatar-fifa-world-cup

    World Politic Review.
    https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/28265/ahead-of-the-2022-world-cup-in-qatar-migrant-workers-continue-to-die

    Magar’s death follows a disturbing pattern for migrant workers in the Gulf. Toiling in the heat, hundreds of laborers die every year from what the government labels “natural causes.”

    An updated Amnesty report.
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2019/02/reality-check-migrant-workers-rights-with-two-years-to-qatar-2022-world-cup/

    Do you believe Amnesty, The Guardian, human rights groups worldwide are fabricating these reports?? Or is it just, it doesn't effect me so I'm not bothered. People are being worked to death in the blistering heat and you are talking how good the health system is. I very much doubt the slave owners care about the health of their charges. Cheap to replace.


  • Registered Users Posts: 45,367 ✭✭✭✭Bobeagleburger


    Great AMA.

    Very informative and interesting.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Fandymo wrote: »
    You fairly much whitewashed it in your reply and seem to think it's disrespectful to call you out on it.

    Here's Amnesty's view on it. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/03/qatar-world-cup-of-shame/

    Human Rights Pulse
    https://www.humanrightspulse.com/mastercontentblog/exploitation-of-migrant-workers-ahead-of-the-2022-qatar-fifa-world-cup

    World Politic Review.
    https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/28265/ahead-of-the-2022-world-cup-in-qatar-migrant-workers-continue-to-die

    Magar’s death follows a disturbing pattern for migrant workers in the Gulf. Toiling in the heat, hundreds of laborers die every year from what the government labels “natural causes.”

    An updated Amnesty report.
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2019/02/reality-check-migrant-workers-rights-with-two-years-to-qatar-2022-world-cup/

    Do you believe Amnesty, The Guardian, human rights groups worldwide are fabricating these reports?? Or is it just, it doesn't effect me so I'm not bothered. People are being worked to death in the blistering heat and you are talking how good the health system is. I very much doubt the slave owners care about the health of their charges. Cheap to replace.

    I don't think it would help if I started to pick and choose from the articles that you have cited - so I'm going to accept them all as honest accounts.

    But I would make two observations:

    Firstly, many of the stories are based on anecdotes about individuals, and I'm certain that some individuals have had an appalling experience in Qatar. But the case needs to be made that these anecdotes are representative, rather than the exceptions. When you have 1.8m workers there are bound to be some instances of poor treatment, but the death rate among manual workers in Qatar is low. take a look at my post #43 in detail. If you think there are factual errors in my analysis please identify them - I'll happily change the post;

    Secondly, Amnesty and The Guardian, are no more unbiased than the Cato Institute and Fox News. They are a lobby group with a particular agenda and a media group with a particular bias. Neither Amnesty not the Guardian has any notable expertise in the area of workers rights and neither has any personnel on the ground in Qatar. The Global Organisation that does have responsibility for workers rights, and is supported by workers through their unions, is the International Labour Organisation. They are here on the ground in Qatar:
    https://www.ilo.org/beirut/projects/qatar-office/WCMS_760466/lang--en/index.htm

    To answer your question about whether reports are fabricated I'm happy to accept the numbers as being correct, but I do think that the Guardian and others who cite these numbers do so in the knowledge that most people don't understand the numbers, and in order to manipulate opinion.

    So it is correct, but not the truth, to say that "Toiling in the heat, hundreds of laborers die every year". The truth is that in any given year hundreds of men out of 1.8m will die, regardless of what they are doing, and if they die in Qatar it will be hot.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,650 ✭✭✭✭dulpit


    The truth is that in any given year hundreds of men out of 1.8m will die, regardless of what they are doing, and if they die in Qatar it will be hot.

    And that's me bailing from this thread. Enjoy the privileged life though... :rolleyes:


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    When I look back over the past 7 pages it strikes me that a reader might think that the answers I have given represent the sum total of my views about Qatar, they do not, they're just the answers (to the best of my ability) to the questions that I got.

    With a couple of exceptions they suggest to me that the average Irish person knows as much about Qatar as the average Qatari knows about Ireland, which I guess is hardly surprising.

    Because of the questions that I got and answered I think a reader might think that my purpose is to defend Qatar - it isn't, but nobody has asked me to talk about what I dislike about Qatar.

    So I'm going to have a think about that, and if anyone has a question in that space I'll be happy to reply.


  • Registered Users Posts: 178 ✭✭Hontou


    What do you dislike about Qatar?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,549 ✭✭✭California Dreamer


    You could live in the best country in the world where everyone gets paid millions per week and I guarantee you there would still be some paddy on the end of a keyboard waiting to give out to you assuming that you are the anti-christ and how dare you work for A B or C!!!!!

    I have friends that spent 10 years in Qatar, one of the victims of the scale back of the airline business and he loved it. You love it too and I hope you are happy with your life. Thanks for doing this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭frozenfrozen


    do you keep your money in a qatari bank or send it home to an irish bank or something? and if you have it all there when you are coming home will you be taxed on having that money in Ireland? Not really a question specific to the place but just the concept of going away to make money and coming home with it


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,643 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha


    Hi and thank you for these three (fairly meaty) questions. I’ll do my best!

    So then, turning to Al Jazeera, the English language version is one of my main TV news sources along with the BBC, CNN and Euronews. That version is the same version as you'll find in hotel rooms all over the world. The Arabic version of Al Jazeera carries much more local news and the allegation of critics is that the broadly neutral stance of the English version is not replicated in the Arabic version, which is a tool of Qatari foreign policy. I really don't know if that is true because I don't speak Arabic, but it is plausible. Al Jazzeera is certainly not independent in the sense that the BBC might be considered to be. Qatar is a monarchy and Al Jazeera was founded and is controlled by the Royal family. As against that most of the countries that criticise Al Jazeera for bias have completely cowed their domestic media and tend not to brook adverse comment from any quarter. I'm sorry if this answer is an unsatisfactory, but it's the best I can offer.

    (BTW the shopping mall that you visited was probably Villagio? It's still there - I live about a 5-minute drive away from it).

    Yeah thats what I was getting at- that al Jazeera in English is a good source of Middle Eastern news but was wondering what it is like when in Arabic reporting on regional affairs. I know back in the Arab Spring in 2011 Libyans, Tunisians and Egyptians depended on it as there was State tv was controlled by the government who obviously werent going to show live footage of the revolutions happening in the city centres so locals had to find out what was going on in their own country via Qatar and al-Jazeera. iirc Egypt was even trying to get the channel blocked at one stage. AFAIK the Qataris have made enemies regionally because of al Jazeeras broadcasting over the heads of governments.

    The shopping centre in Doha, I cant remember the name of it but back in 2006 it was the only really big one in the whole city and was perhaps just 2 or 3 years old at that point. At that time Doha had maybe about 30 or 40 skyscrapers and construction on the paved corniche was not long completed. Id imagine if I went back now it has literally hundreds of skyscrapers and lots of other infrastructure. I stayed in a YHA youth hostel about 2km from downtown and remember everywhere around the area new roads were getting laid. I pitied the Indian/Bangladeshi lads working in 40+ degree heat and shovelling hot tarmac, the sweat was absolutely dripping off them.

    Thats a good plan with dropping the stadiums down to 20,000 seaters in the aftermath of the World Cup. If you are happening to pass by any of them it would be great if you could take a photo and post it up here.

    Just one other question on the Qatari royal family- how big is 'the royal family' itself? In Saudi they number around 15,000 people, is the Qatari royal family similar or a lot smaller than that. Would you ever see the main players out and about at functions or are they largely holed up in their palaces


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,749 ✭✭✭✭Inquitus


    How do you manage the Summer Temps, I have been to Qatar, a couple of years ago I worked on a year long Middle Eastern project, mainly Dubai, Qatar, Egypt. In the height of summer it is simply too hot to be outside and I found that going from A/c Hotel to A/c Car to Indoor A/c restaurant or shopping center to be pretty boring after a while. It really is impossible to go outside comfortably for months at a time. What does your family do during the exceptionally hot summer? That said Oct-Mar is the flipside and the weather is fantastic.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,314 ✭✭✭KyussB


    Thanks for your contribution. Despite this being an “AMA” thread I can’t actually see any question in your post.

    If you want to have a debate about the merits and demerits of globalisation please start another thread somewhere and I’ll happily join you. You might find that we have more in common than you think. But the debate about globalisation is no more relevant to the situation in Qatar than it is to Ireland or any other country.

    Meanwhile, seeing as you didn’t ask me any questions, let me ask you some:
    1. You say that Qatar is “known for its human rights abuses”. What are you talking about? Would you like to post links to evidence? I’ll be happy to respond if I can;
    2. You say “Normally people who are aware of the ethical problems of globalization don't use them as an excuse to ignore other ethical problems or draw false equivalencies...”. So what do you think is the ‘normal” reaction to the ethical problems of globalisation? For example, have you gotten rid of all your clothes made in sweatshops in Bangladesh? Have you stopped using smartphones that are made using cobalt mined by children in the DRC? Have you stopped drinking coffee harvested by wage slaves?

    You talk about “forced labour” in your post. I cannot say this any more simply than this - There is no forced labour in Qatar. None. Absolutely zero.

    All of the people who work in Qatar, from the lowest manual labourer to the highest paid CEO, came here of their own free will and in the full knowledge of the terms and conditions. There are no gangs of Qataris roaming the streets of Pakistan or Nepal press-ganging people into servitude in the Gulf. The workers from South Asia who are here come from impoverished villages and towns in their home countries, places that have been sending workers to the Gulf for generations. If the economic conditions in their home countries are such that they believe that toiling in the Gulf is a better option for them then is due to the fact that their home countries have failed their citizens. You can’t lay that at the door of the Qataris.

    (I digress, but in some respects I think this situation is a lot like the plight of the Irish navvies who toiled for generations in England).

    There used to be forced labour in Qatar, I have heard it said that when the Emir of Qatar attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 he brought some slaves with him. Actual slaves. There was a general manumission shortly thereafter, and the former slaves were given full Qatari citizenship. If it is forced labour that makes the Qataris rich now, how come they were so desperately poor when they had slaves? The wealth of Qatar is not based on “forced labour” but on the enormous hydrocarbon riches that it possesses. Labourers from Asia do not work in the oil and gas fields in any great numbers. Those resources are extracted by Exxon, Total, Qatar Petroleum etc. And the people who do the extraction are generally well-paid technicians and engineers. You don’t use semi-literate manual workers to build a Liquid Natural Gas plant.

    There are approx 1m manual workers in Qatar, many of whom do work in construction. There are huge infrastructure programmes building highways, a port, 4 Metro lines, desalination plants, sewage treatment plants, area cooling plants, the World Cup stadiums etc. It is on these projects that the majority of manual labourers work. These projects are financed and managed by the government or government agencies.

    The Qataris certainly use cheap labour, but they pay well by the standards of the countries where these workers come from. You say that the “wealth of Qatar is literally built upon forced labor”. I think you could just as easily say that some of the wealth of Qatar ends up putting food on the table for millions of dependents in Asia.

    Let’s say for a moment that you could somehow force the Qataris to quadruple salaries. If you did, they would no longer recruit lower skilled workers from South Asia. The market will find its new equilibrium, and instead the workers would come from comparatively wealthier countries such as Egypt and Morocco.

    The families of the workers in South Asia might not however appreciate the price that they would pay to assuage your sensibilities.
    My question is right in the first sentence of my post, you can't miss it:
    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=116864354#post116864354

    You brought up globalization, not me, when you posted this:
    ...
    Secondly, you can certainly make the argument that any Westerner who moves to countries like Qatar or the UAE are complicit in the human rights atrocities committed by the local regime, but if you are to be fair you must also accept that anyone who buys a shirt made in the sweatshops of Bangladesh, or owns a smartphone with cobalt mined by children in DRC, or drinks lattes made from coffee harvested by wage slaves is equally complicit in those human rights atrocities. The world is enormously unfair and all of us white western posters on Boards.ie live lives that depend upon the exploitation of others.
    ...

    1: The human rights abuses, particularly against migrants, are extensively documented:
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/24/qatar-little-progress-protecting-migrant-workers
    https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/08/24/how-can-we-work-without-wages/salary-abuses-facing-migrant-workers-ahead-qatars

    2: You seem to have willfully missed the point: The morally compromising effects of globalization don't morally justify ignoring the human rights abuses specific to Qatar.

    By any credible moral framework, it is objectively morally worse to willingly participate in and benefit from the exploitation inherent in Qatar's economy, than it is to be unable to avoid the morally compromising effects of globalization (the latter affects almost every economy in the world, to the point that nobody has a choice in their involvement - which is not the case with choosing to live in Qatar).


    No forced labour in Qatar? Well, Human Rights Watch and the very people actually working in Qatar disagree with you - from the above links:
    Martin and Joseph say they wish they could go home. The new contract is no better than a “jail sentence.”But Martin believes he is under too much debt to go home, a debt he took to come to Qatar. “This is slavery. We are stuck in these jobs because of laws and signatures that keep us here. What is freedom? Freedom is talking to people, mingling with people, going to places when you feel like it, choosing your job, getting paid fairly, I cannot do any of this. I’m not allowed to talk to anyone, not the locals, not the tourists. It’s such a hard life out here. We are trapped here,” said Martin.
    I have more respect for people who just say "fuck it, I don't care about human rights abuses, I just do it for the money..." - as at least then they are honest about what it is and aren't playing down conditions and human rights abuses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo


    KyussB wrote: »
    My question is right in the first sentence of my post, you can't miss it:
    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=116864354#post116864354

    You brought up globalization, not me, when you posted this:


    1: The human rights abuses, particularly against migrants, are extensively documented:
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/24/qatar-little-progress-protecting-migrant-workers
    https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/08/24/how-can-we-work-without-wages/salary-abuses-facing-migrant-workers-ahead-qatars

    2: You seem to have willfully missed the point: The morally compromising effects of globalization don't morally justify ignoring the human rights abuses specific to Qatar.

    By any credible moral framework, it is objectively morally worse to willingly participate in and benefit from the exploitation inherent in Qatar's economy, than it is to be unable to avoid the morally compromising effects of globalization (the latter affects almost every economy in the world, to the point that nobody has a choice in their involvement - which is not the case with choosing to live in Qatar).


    No forced labour in Qatar? Well, Human Rights Watch and the very people actually working in Qatar disagree with you - from the above links:
    Martin and Joseph say they wish they could go home. The new contract is no better than a “jail sentence.”But Martin believes he is under too much debt to go home, a debt he took to come to Qatar. “This is slavery. We are stuck in these jobs because of laws and signatures that keep us here. What is freedom? Freedom is talking to people, mingling with people, going to places when you feel like it, choosing your job, getting paid fairly, I cannot do any of this. I’m not allowed to talk to anyone, not the locals, not the tourists. It’s such a hard life out here. We are trapped here,” said Martin.
    I have more respect for people who just say "fuck it, I don't care about human rights abuses, I just do it for the money..." - as at least then they are honest about what it is and aren't playing down conditions and human rights abuses.

    Thread is like the WC on a smaller scale. A whitewash of the horrendous treatment of migrant workers in Qatar. Expect more and more as the WC gets closer. Much like the Saudi "bees" we'll see more and more "non-Qatari's" bigging up the country in the lead up to the sportswash.


  • Boards.ie Employee Posts: 12,597 ✭✭✭✭✭Boards.ie: Niamh
    Boards.ie Community Manager


    Fandymo and KyussB, if you are not posting a question then don't post. Neither of the last two posts are asking a question.

    Everyone, please also note that the thread is for asking our guest about his personal experiences, not to answer for how entire industries there operate.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,529 ✭✭✭✭Tell me how


    I think perhaps you are not appreciating that I and my family live in a world that is almost hermetically sealed from Arabic and Muslim culture - largely because that is how our hosts want it.

    My daughter went to a fantastic international school, has just aced the International Baccalaureate, and is already accepted into a prestigious European university.

    Growing up in a multicultural environment in Qatar has broadened her perspectives and has given her far more choices in life than if we had stayed in Ireland.

    I certainly came here for the money, but the real long-term benefit has been the experience and opportunities that all of our children have had.

    Hi, my question is not meant to be antagonistic, but do you see a conflict between the 2 statements in bold above?

    And, aside from that, why do you think that your hosts might want to keep 'outsiders' isolated so much from what is the essence of the country?

    I came here to ask if Qatari people are familiar with the view that many in European/Western countries have of their state and are do they ordinary man on the street feel it is a fair representation of their country or not but I suspect, that interacting with the locals to the point of having such conversations is not something which generally happens. Is that fair to say?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,607 ✭✭✭Kat1170


    Is there anything simple you miss from home that you just can't get there.
    A bag of Tayto.
    A bottle of Lucozade.
    A decent fry up.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Hontou wrote: »
    What do you dislike about Qatar?

    Hi, and thank you for this surprise question!

    So, in no particular order, the things that I dislike about Qatar are:

    Racism
    Qatar is a very racist society and some of the blame for that must be directed towards the Qataris. They have created a caste system with themselves at the top, Westerners and other Arabs next, Filipinos and Indians and other South Asians below that (this is not strictly a caste system as in India, but similar). Each person is valued (and paid) in accordance with their ethnicity and nationality. If there are two accountants doing the same job, with the same qualifications, and one is British and one Indian, the British one will be paid more (perhaps twice as much.

    Law & Order
    The laws of Qatar are applied to Qataris completely differently to non-Qataris. A good rule to live by is never get into an argument with a Qatari. If the police and the courts become involved you will lose, and will probably be deported.

    Carbon Footprint
    Residents of Qatar have the highest carbon footprint in the world. When you take into account the oil and gas industries, the constant air-conditioning, the gas-guzzlers, the level of international travel etc. Qatar is off the scale as far as damage to the planet is concerned.

    Monarchy
    Westerners are used to democracy, to robust debate, to a certain irreverence towards our leaders. This does not apply in Qatar. There is no lèse-majesté law (AFAIK) but it is very firmly a command economy directed by the hereditary ruler.

    Materialism
    There is a lot of conspicuous consumption in Qatar (and not only by the Qataris). Perhaps this serves to bring into even sharper focus the difference between those who have a lot and those who have comparatively little.

    Lack of culture
    Qatar is a new country and until recently very poor. There is very little by was of cultural depth to draw upon. Add to this the fact that many adherents of Wahhabi Islam frowns upon music, poetry, visual arts etc. and it can all make for a very boring environment (the Philharmonic is a notable oasis in this cultural desert).


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    do you keep your money in a qatari bank or send it home to an irish bank or something? and if you have it all there when you are coming home will you be taxed on having that money in Ireland? Not really a question specific to the place but just the concept of going away to make money and coming home with it

    Very few foreigners keep their money (apart from an operating float) in Qatar and I am the same.

    I'm not a tax expert, but if you return to Ireland with cash earned abroad you will not be taxed on it. If you use that money to buy a house and rent if out you will be taxed on that rental income.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Muahahaha wrote: »
    Yeah thats what I was getting at- that al Jazeera in English is a good source of Middle Eastern news but was wondering what it is like when in Arabic reporting on regional affairs. I know back in the Arab Spring in 2011 Libyans, Tunisians and Egyptians depended on it as there was State tv was controlled by the government who obviously werent going to show live footage of the revolutions happening in the city centres so locals had to find out what was going on in their own country via Qatar and al-Jazeera. iirc Egypt was even trying to get the channel blocked at one stage. AFAIK the Qataris have made enemies regionally because of al Jazeeras broadcasting over the heads of governments.

    The shopping centre in Doha, I cant remember the name of it but back in 2006 it was the only really big one in the whole city and was perhaps just 2 or 3 years old at that point. At that time Doha had maybe about 30 or 40 skyscrapers and construction on the paved corniche was not long completed. Id imagine if I went back now it has literally hundreds of skyscrapers and lots of other infrastructure. I stayed in a YHA youth hostel about 2km from downtown and remember everywhere around the area new roads were getting laid. I pitied the Indian/Bangladeshi lads working in 40+ degree heat and shovelling hot tarmac, the sweat was absolutely dripping off them.

    Thats a good plan with dropping the stadiums down to 20,000 seaters in the aftermath of the World Cup. If you are happening to pass by any of them it would be great if you could take a photo and post it up here.

    Just one other question on the Qatari royal family- how big is 'the royal family' itself? In Saudi they number around 15,000 people, is the Qatari royal family similar or a lot smaller than that. Would you ever see the main players out and about at functions or are they largely holed up in their palaces

    I think there are several thousand Al Thanis, you won't come across the senior royals very much, but others more distant from the centre can be found in almost every organisation.

    The Emir and other senior royals are often photographed out and about, whether it is attending a formal event, or dining out in a restaurant.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Inquitus wrote: »
    How do you manage the Summer Temps, I have been to Qatar, a couple of years ago I worked on a year long Middle Eastern project, mainly Dubai, Qatar, Egypt. In the height of summer it is simply too hot to be outside and I found that going from A/c Hotel to A/c Car to Indoor A/c restaurant or shopping center to be pretty boring after a while. It really is impossible to go outside comfortably for months at a time. What does your family do during the exceptionally hot summer? That said Oct-Mar is the flipside and the weather is fantastic.

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    I'm afraid that the answer is also in your question, I go from A/c Hotel to A/c Car to Indoor A/c restaurant or shopping center and it is pretty boring. In other years I managed to spend August in Europe and I'm really hoping this will be possible this year too. When the kids were smaller my wife took them to Europe for the whole summer and I joined as much as I could.


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  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    KyussB wrote: »
    My question is right in the first sentence of my post, you can't miss it:
    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=116864354#post116864354

    You brought up globalization, not me, when you posted this:


    1: The human rights abuses, particularly against migrants, are extensively documented:
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/24/qatar-little-progress-protecting-migrant-workers
    https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/08/24/how-can-we-work-without-wages/salary-abuses-facing-migrant-workers-ahead-qatars

    2: You seem to have willfully missed the point: The morally compromising effects of globalization don't morally justify ignoring the human rights abuses specific to Qatar.

    By any credible moral framework, it is objectively morally worse to willingly participate in and benefit from the exploitation inherent in Qatar's economy, than it is to be unable to avoid the morally compromising effects of globalization (the latter affects almost every economy in the world, to the point that nobody has a choice in their involvement - which is not the case with choosing to live in Qatar).


    No forced labour in Qatar? Well, Human Rights Watch and the very people actually working in Qatar disagree with you - from the above links:
    Martin and Joseph say they wish they could go home. The new contract is no better than a “jail sentence.”But Martin believes he is under too much debt to go home, a debt he took to come to Qatar. “This is slavery. We are stuck in these jobs because of laws and signatures that keep us here. What is freedom? Freedom is talking to people, mingling with people, going to places when you feel like it, choosing your job, getting paid fairly, I cannot do any of this. I’m not allowed to talk to anyone, not the locals, not the tourists. It’s such a hard life out here. We are trapped here,” said Martin.
    I have more respect for people who just say "fuck it, I don't care about human rights abuses, I just do it for the money..." - as at least then they are honest about what it is and aren't playing down conditions and human rights abuses.

    I think that you have a particular prejudice and, supported by anecdotes but ignoring facts, you are determined to stick to it.

    There is a fair degree of incoherence to your arguments that makes it difficult to respond. I mean what does "By any credible moral framework, it is objectively morally worse to willingly participate in and benefit from the exploitation inherent in Qatar's economy, than it is to be unable to avoid the morally compromising effects of globalization" even mean?

    It also takes a fair degree of intellectual arrogance to rationalise that the only explanation for why another person might disagree with you (even though they offer facts - and not anecdotes - to back up their argument) is that they are willfully missing the point.

    I think you are willfully ignoring the facts because they do not support your prejudice. I'll go further and give that prejudice a name - racism.

    Our entire western way of life is built upon the exploitation of the other people who live on this planet, and in that regard the Irish are as guilty as anyone else. The demonisation of the Qataris for the sins that we all commit is not therefore based on objective reality, could it be based on the fact that they are just a little too brown, a little too rich, and a little too Muslim?


This discussion has been closed.
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