Almost as soon as Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup with a suite of swanky solar-powered stadiums, activists started clambering about the emirate’s terrible working conditions. Turn’s out, their warnings were dead on.
A recent investigation launched byThe Guardian has uncovered just how badly migrant workers are treated in Qatar as it prepares to accommodate hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of visitors in 2022.
Facing both a construction glut and and a domestic population that is less willing than able to build their own hotels, roads, airports, and stadia, Qatari leaders have been recruiting vulnerable Nepalese workers to do the grunt work. These workers are often in some debt, since they have had to pay recruitment companies to secure work for them.
Once they get to Qatar, where they are hoping to earn some extra cash to send home, they often find themselves in cramped hot rooms with no ventilation, their passports are sometimes withheld, so is pay. Men talk about having to beg for food and work long, arduous shifts hungry and thirsty because they have no money.
“We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night,” Ram Kumar Mahara, who is just 27 years old, told the paper.
“When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.”
“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us,” said one Nepalese migrant employed at Lusail City development, a brand new $45bn (£28bn) city that will host the World Cup final.
“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.”
The Guardian obtained records from the Nepalese embassy in Doha which reveal that 44 young, healthy men died between June and August, more than half of them from heart attacks or heart failure. That equates to nearly one person every day.
After unearthing a plethora of scathing reports, the paper approached the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee with their allegations. Whilst the group claims that work has yet to start for the World Cup preparations, they expressed concern and told the paper that the relevant authorities are conducting their own investigation.
Head over to The Guardian too learn more about the dreadful conditions that workers in Qatar face and – particularly if you’re a sports fan and plan to attend this magnanimous event – consider making your complaints heard.