Migrant Workers in Qatar
The skyline of Qatar’s capital, Doha, showcases gargantuan skyscrapers towering high into the sky. Being the site of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is pursuing extensive infrastructure projects to prepare for the massive influx of rabid soccer fans eager to cheer on their favorite team.

Much of the infrastructure projects that are underway rely on migrant workers for completion. In recent months, several stories have broken regarding the terrible working conditions these workers face. Some assert that the working conditions are so bad it amounts to forced labor.

Many of these migrant workers hail from a variety of countries but the majority tend to be Nepalese. Facing poverty at home, they venture outside their borders, via recruiting agencies, in order to provide for their families.

Abigail Hauslohner, details the process by which these migrant workers become the victims of an international forced labor scheme in a recent Washington Post article. Many workers must pay recruitment agencies hundreds or even thousands of dollars to secure a job out of the country. Once the journey is made, workers claim their IDs and passports are confiscated upon arrival, making them illegal aliens.

The Guardian reports that many workers accrue massive loans to the recruitment agencies that, due to the lack of payment for their hard work, they are unable to repay. Some of the loans are reported to have interest rates of up to 36%.

The working conditions that many encounter on a day to day basis are deadly. This past summer, it was reported that an average of one Nepalese worker died per day. Over half died from heart attacks associated with heatstroke. The Nepalese embassy stationed in Doha has reported that 44 workers died between June 4 through August 8.

Lacking payment for their work, some workers are growing hungry, reports Amnesty International. 80 workers have revealed they have not been paid for over a year. The company employing them has recently ceased a monthly food stipend of 250 riyals, amounting to just $69. Luckily, a group of Doha residents have taken notice of their situation and began donating food to help.

Facing large debt, possessing no form of identification and an inability to leave the workplace has placed these migrant workers in a dire situation. Holding illegal alien status, without any way to recover their identification, leaves them with no legal protection under Qatari law. They are trapped in a cycle of forced labor.

Some hold out hope that the eventual 2022 World Cup will force a change. The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee in charge of preparing for the games states they have taken notice of the problem. The committee insists they will introduce measures to improve labor standards.

Nasser al-Khater, spokesman for the committee, has stated they are in the midst of developing worker welfare standards that come into compliance with international best practices. Contractors will be forced to comply with these standards.

The dichotomy present in the richest per capita country in the world is stark. Qatari citizens enjoy free healthcare, education and electricity while the towering infrastructure is erected by migrant workers suffering under the injustice of forced labor.

Zack Lindberg

Sources: Washington Post, The Guardian, Amnesty International
Photo: Vintage 3D

bike
The inaugural World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) – a conglomeration of entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics and technicians in the health space – convened last week in Qatar. As its title suggests, WISH serves as an arena for international delegates to create and implement innovative, nontraditional solutions to pressing issues in global health.

One participant, Londoner Lord Darzi of Denham (chairman of the Institute of Global Innovation at Imperial College), succinctly stated after the announcement of the Summit that “WISH is about action.”

Qatar’s newfound consideration as a hub for frontline innovation- principally through the Qatar Foundation- landed the nation the opportunity to host the prestigious two-day summit event. The Foundation has been on the forefront of the nation’s “visionary national health strategy” and initiated a first-of-its-kind investigation into the healthcare systems of eight major world players, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, India and Qatar. The Global Innovation Diffusion Report, unveiled on the second day of the summit, presented a well-researched report card of how each nation fosters and incorporates innovation to maximize health outcomes for their citizens.

The report noted both victories and areas in need of improvement for the eight nations of study. Each succeeded on a general level in identifying and addressing doctors and involving patients in treatment. Unfortunately, however, every nation but Qatar fell short in matching research-based suggestions with real changes in the health care space. Expert assessments of appropriate technological or practical innovations were ignored for different reasons in each nation.

In Spain and the United Kingdom, the least innovative countries, funds for research and development are scarce. New ideas simply cannot get off the ground because there is no money to put wind in their sails to begin with. Australia, Brazil and South Africa were slightly more successful than their European counterparts, but need to improve incentives for academics and policymakers who spread innovation. The United States and India showed a consistent, but small, gap between the ideal and reality.

The thorough case study concluded that innovation is most successfully spurred in the United States when incorporated into (or alongside) insurance and the accompanying payment system. Incidentally, the report identified the rollout of Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) programs as a major success for the U.S. in terms of innovation implementation. PCMH programs encourage primary care providers to tailor payments around patient outcomes and foster cooperation between medical and social services.

Moving forward, hot areas of progress for medical innovation will likely include: the application of mobile technology to share and store medical information; policymaking that encourages clinicians to adopt new ways of working; mobilization of resources to allow coordination between researchers and clinicians; and the development of an “innovation culture” and leadership among front line health care professionals.

Delegates representing our nation will undoubtedly confer about these recent findings and carve out a designated space for innovation in discussions touching on future policies, programs and technologies.

Casey Ernstes

Sources: Gulf News, NCQA, PR News Wire, World Innovation Summit for Health: Home, World Innovation Summit for Health: Global Diffusion
Photo: Vintage 3D

5_Richest_Countries
With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is sharing what they are grateful for. Family, friends and jobs top the lists of many individuals. And the holiday spirit has many people anxious to give to the less fortunate. In the global arena, many developed nations possess greater resources than their less fortunate neighbors. Here’s a list of the five richest countries and their five poorest neighbors:

Richest Countries

1. Qatar

The Arab state is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $105,091. It only has 2 million residents.

2. Luxembourg

Despite its small size, Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world with a GDP (PPP) of $79,593.

3. Singapore

Located in southern Asia, the country has a GDP (PPP) of $61,567 and a population of 5 million residents.

4. Norway

The country has a GDP (PPP) of $56,663, earning the majority of its wealth from petroleum, natural gas and fresh water reserves. It is also the least dense European country.

5. Brunei

The country boasts a GDP (PPP) of $55,111 with most of its revenue derived from its reserves of crude oil and natural gas.

Poorest Countries

1. Eritrea

Located near the Horn of Africa, the country has a GDP (PPP) of $792.13. It has a fast growing economy compared to its neighbors.

2. Liberia

The West African country’s instability due to past civil wars has caused the GDP (PPP) to stagnate at $716.04.

3. Burundi

Violence in the region plays a dramatic role in the country’s economy which has a GDP of $648.58. Inhabitants of the region often face corruption, poor education and AIDS.

4. Zimbabwe

Like many African countries, Zimbabwe’s economy has taken continual hits. The country currently has a GDP (PPP) of $589.46 and attracted attention in the past due to human rights issues in the past.

5. Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo currently has the lowest GDP with $394.25 per capita. The second largest country in Africa has potential to greatly benefit from its mineral reserves and land for agriculture but its economy continues to be effected by violence in the region.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: Top 10 Always, The Richest
Photo: Trulia

Migrant Workers Doha Qatar 2022 Labor Conditions
Conventionally, the bestowal of pride that follows a host nomination for a future World Cup invigorates a country; in Qatar, it has nearly broken it. The working conditions of those preparing for the 2022 event, most of whom are migrant workers, have exceeded the already poor conditions of such labor in the Gulf States, causing shock throughout the world.

In the past few weeks alone, dozens of Nepalese laborers have died, while countless others face terrible abuses on a daily basis. Over the broader span of this past summer, the Nepalese workforce in Qatar averaged one death a day, many of which were due to heart attacks, rare occurrences in young men. Tellingly, the condition of the Nepalese—the largest labor group in Qatar—tells a greater story of all workers: that of modern-day slavery.

In an interview with The Guardian, one worker described the precariousness of his situation: “I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless. I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”

Tellingly, in addition to the continual threat of death, other injustices have characterized their stay in Qatar. For example, many laborers allege that their wages have been withheld for months in order to stop them from running away. Some employers even steal passports and ID cards, making it impossible for workers to obtain the legal or political aid they deserve.

Despite the slyness of many Qatar labor schemes, some are just basic infringements of human rights. Many laborers have recalled being refused water, despite working in some of the world’s most brutal heat. Such cruelty directed at largely Nepalese laborers underscores the broader context of the 2022 World Cup: one in which an extremely wealthy country exploits a vulnerable labor force from an extremely indigent one for material aims.

However, after the recent media attention scrutinizing the World Cup labor scheme, Qatar has responded by promising swift action. Hassan Al Thawadi, the head organizer of Qatar’s World Cup, said his organization was dutifully addressing international concerns.

In a recent interview, he stated with avidity: “It’s not a World Cup being built on the blood of innocents. That is unacceptable to anybody.”

The intended efficacy of labor reform remains, until now, unseen. The world urges Qatar to quickly and adequately address the gross human rights injustices being done in the name of sport and materialism, setting an example by valuing human life, regardless of one’s background or occupation. If these issues are not addressed, the 2022 World Cup will reflect the horrors of Qatar rather than its immense beauty.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: The Guardian, The Huffington Post, BBC
Photo: The Guardian

Qatar FIFA 2022 World Cup Migrant Workers Exploited
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Qatar and the construction on hotels and stadiums has already begun. This internationally-renowned sporting event will boost Qatari infrastructure, economy, and national spirit. However, groups like the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) claim that thousands of migrant workers will die before construction is finished, and have called for policies that will prevent the exploitation of these workers.

Many migrant workers from countries like India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have been entering Qatar for employment, joining the already 1.2 million migrant workers present in this country. Although many migrant workers are needed to prepare Qatar for the World Cup, the current system of employment may mean that many of these workers will never return home.

Unless reforms are made, 600 migrant workers a year could die on building sites due to harsh working conditions and lack of safety protocols.

Recently, 30 migrant workers fled to the Nepalese Embassy in Doha, Qatar to escape these conditions. They reported having their passports withheld in order to prevent them from fleeing, being denied water and a salary, and being forced to work in intolerable heat. Some equated such hardships with modern-day slavery. In addition, workers have been found living in unsanitary and crowded conditions, resulting in illness.

Employees that complain are often fired, with no means of returning home or finding more work. With passports and salary withheld, most migrant workers have no choice but to continue to work in such conditions.

Nepalese migrant workers aren’t the only workers turning to their embassy for help. Thousands more have complained to the Indian embassy in Qatar. According to the Indian ambassador, more than 700 Indian workers have already lost their lives in these deleterious working conditions.

The ITUC stresses the need for significant changes in workplace sanitation and safety. Otherwise, the organization estimates that at least 4,000 migrant workers will lose their lives by the 2022 World Cup.

These working conditions come as a surprise to many, as Qatar is the world’s richest nation in regards to income per capita. The country is expected to spend over $100 billion on infrastructure, hotels, and other facilities for the World Cup alone.

The ITUC has also commented on the need for FIFA to send a strong message to the Qatari government on how this system of modern-day slavery is unacceptable.

Rahul Shah

Sources: Middle East Online, Opposing Views, The Guardian
Photo: BBC