Qatar has announced plans to build seven cities to house the migrant workers on whose backs the 2022 World Cup stadiums will be built. The largest, called “Labor City,” will hold 70,000 people as well as the second largest mosque in Qatar, a mall and clinic, and a 24,000-seat cricket stadium, according to AFP. This announcement comes after a series of damning reports that likened the country’s abhorrent living and working conditions for laborers to modern-day slavery.
About one quarter of Qatar’s existing migrant workers, or 258,000 people, will live in these seven cities, which are reportedly designed to improve living conditions for the thousands of laborers from Southeast Asia and Africa who are lured to the emirate with promises of decent wages. The country’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi, told AFP the soon-to-be populated Labor City will offer a blueprint for all future accommodations for migrant workers.
“There are in the pipeline (several) cities around the nation. I know our people want to have better accommodation for their laborers,” he said, adding that the number of housing inspectors has doubled to ensure improved monitoring and enforcement of more stringent labor and accommodation laws.
But Nicholas McGeehan from Human Rights Watch isn’t convinced. While he acknowledges the effort to improve living conditions for migrant workers, he told AFP, “Housing has never been identified as the major problem in Qatar, it’s the system that’s the problem.”
In this system, workers visas are tied to their employment contract, and very often they discover, upon arrival, that they will be earning a fraction of what they expected. A father of two from Accra, Ghana, Hasan claims he was assured a salary of $900 per month, but his real salary amounts to just $250 per month.
Via Aquila Style