Qatar and the World Cup 2022.

mmghosh's picture

As documented in al-Jazeera.

Qatar is the home of the Al Jazeera satellite television network and is the world's richest country on a per capita basis.

It also has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world.

There are an estimated 1.2 million migrant workers living in the country. Many of them work in the construction sector, and many more will be needed to build the stadiums and other infrastructure required for the 2022 football World Cup.

 

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"The fundamental responsibility rests with the authorities of Qatar .... Last year, 161 Nepali construction workers died … this is a situation of industrial anarchy. The way migrant workers are tricked into binding contracts, almost a form of modern-day slavery, is completely unacceptable."
- Tim Noonan, a trade union campaigns director

What is especially interesting about the Qatari immigration system is the concept of the Exit Visa.

Qatar's sponsorship system, known as kafala, prohibits workers from changing jobs or leaving the country without their sponsor's approval. A worker's sponsor is usually their employer. Qatari law also prevents workers from organising unions or staging strikes.

The Guardian weighs in.

The allegations suggest a chain of exploitation leading from poor Nepalese villages to Qatari leaders. The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world's most popular sporting tournament.

"We'd like to leave, but the company won't let us," said one Nepalese migrant employed at Lusail City development, a $45bn (£28bn) city being built from scratch which will include the 90,000-seater stadium 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."

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Almost all migrant workers have huge debts from Nepal, accrued in order to pay recruitment agents for their jobs. The obligation to repay these debts, combined with the non-payment of wages, confiscation of documents and inability of workers to leave their place of work, constitute forced labour, a form of modern-day slavery estimated to affect up to 21 million people across the globe. So entrenched is this exploitation that the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, recently described the emirate as an "open jail".

Huge amounts of money are floating around.

Qatar will spend $100bn on infrastructure projects to support the World Cup. As well as nine state-of-the-art stadiums, the country has committed to $20bn worth of new roads, $4bn for a causeway connecting Qatar to Bahrain, $24bn for a high-speed rail network, and 55,000 hotel rooms to accommodate visiting fans and has almost completed a new airport.

The World Cup is part of an even bigger programme of construction in Qatar designed to remake the tiny desert kingdom over the next two decades. Qatar has yet to start building stadiums for 2022, but has embarked on the big infrastructure projects likesuch as Lusail City that, according to the US project managers, Parsons, "will play a major role during the 2022 Fifa World Cup". The British engineering company Halcrow, part of the CH2M Hill group, is a lead consultant on the Lusail project responsible for "infrastructure design and construction supervision".

The commentators point out that

The western world boycotted South Africa for its human rights record and yet we do nothing when middle eastern and asian dictatorships abuse their own people and guest workers.

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To use a convoluted metaphor, the structure of society in the West is a wealth pyramid. The third world is the iceberg beneath that allows that pyramid to float on the surface. Our relative prosperity is utterly dependent on de jure (historically) and the de facto slavery as illustrated here.-

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The safety situation here is Qatar is well known to Qataris and Nepalis, but the latter still queue up to come. Surely there is a problem in Nepal that needs addressed.

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Qatar, a country with no football tradition whatsoever but with great wealth gets awarded the 2022 world cup in an obviously rigged vote by the famously corrupt FIFA and goes on to abuse its desperately poor construction workers in the manner of slave drivers.

 

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I hope entire stadia

(#308538)

can be air conditioned.  Doesn't the WC have to be in June-July so as not to interfere with club play?

 

I remember the Irish wilting in their game against Mexico in Florida in 1994.  No one wants to run 10k in 40C weather.

Some stadiums are being designed by Zaha Hadid, architect

(#308579)
mmghosh's picture

to dictators; its unlikely that slave labour bothers her unduly.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

They Could Always Turn Them Into Malls Later

(#308552)
M Scott Eiland's picture

There's bound to be well trained security forces in place for each facility, given the violence threat posed by a typical soccer crowd. I'm just hoping they have dedicated snipers tasked to dealing with anyone who brings in an air horn or a vuvuzela. ]:-)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Sports admnistrators giving the support base the finger

(#308551)
mmghosh's picture

this must be the most extreme example.

 

Anyone have any other examples?

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

It must really suck in Nepal

(#308534)
Bird Dog's picture

Far as I can tell, no one is forcing Nepalese and such to go there.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Yup, extreme poverty

(#308537)

I'm not sure the Nepalese were informed beforehand they would be prohibited to leave though.

i think you have to nationalize a toilet paper

(#308550)

company or tell restaurants not to sell 32oz cokes to get some people excited about oppression -- merely enslaving some nepalese ain't no big thing.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

How big a thing is it for you?

(#308560)

I'll state up front that I haven't provided so much as a single drop of sweat from my nether regions to help the Nepalese laborers.  What have you done?  If it's roughly the same then how exactly do you criticize another's view on the situation?  If you'd like I'll make a deal with you.  You oppose rules against the state telling adults what allotment of a soda they may served and I'll join you in white-knuckled teeth-gritting ineffectual rage against the Qatari government's oppression of Nepalese laborers.  I'll double down and go as far as not watching soccer at all for ten years.

 

Deal?

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

meh

(#308576)

i;m not going to make an issue out of anyones personal conduct outside of teh forvm, as you seem to do here. all i can observe is that, as far as the activity i can observe here, people read things and then may or may not be willing to type out an reaction and hit reply on a web browser (which is about all the effort to improve teh world *anyone* here is putting out, as far as i can tell).

 

within those parameters, someone who is confronted with modern day slavery mustered the energy to type "sucks to be them" and hit reply.

 

it is what it is, man.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Criticizing can be good

(#308577)

The UN released a report this week that worldwide child labor has dropped by a third since 2000. The wsj article I read said one factor is corporations worrying about consumers who find out wjen theyre caught with child laborers. Nike really did get hammered some in the late 90s with bad press and sales. It makes sense that companies could seek to minimize that risk.

Perhaps something similar might take place re this kind of adult slavery. Its not ridiculous that spreading the word about this in the coveted american market, which fifa considers its main expansionary opportunity, could make sponsors and others worried. So go ahead and condemn this and criticize those who shrug bc its not a leftist government taking away peoples freedoms. Its a tiny thing of course but its not necessaeily nothing either.

you don't get it, catchy!

(#308578)

clenching my white liberal knuckles in inneffectual rage at slavery is stupid.... opposing big gulp regulations (somehow, not sure what the action plan is there...) is a better use of our time here, hahaha....

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Stopping It In Its Tracks, Actually

(#308580)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Or at least, expressing a real life policy preference that a judge who isn't a pudgy dictatorial midget agreed with and thereby shut the policy down in its tracks. But hey, passive aggressive sniping about people whose policy preferences regarding creepy nannystatism are actually being acted on is cute, really.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

If the judge ruled that way because

(#308583)

they agreed with a "real life policy preference" rather than because it wasn't allowed by law, then I would say pudgy dictatorial midget would be an excellent descriptor. But hey, being gung ho for judicial activism when it favors your side is cute, really.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Um, No

(#308585)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Except to the extent that the judge doing his job kept the pudgy little dictator from seizing power that wasn't his, which is indeed a policy preference of mine in addition to being the f***ing point of having laws and a constitution.

Here endeth the clarification.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

hahaha

(#308581)

congratulations on your big win! see you at the next civil rights honorees banquet! thank god for brave people who can stand up to the totalitarians like the mayor of NYC!

 

next time you're there, drink 64 ounces of pepsi for me, spilling out an ounce or two on teh ground for your fallen comrades-in-arms first of course.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Posting Rules -nt-

(#308586)
M Scott Eiland's picture

.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Really?

(#308628)

Where's the insult? Seems like pretty nifty satirical joshing.

 

On the other hand, your talking about "passive aggressive sniping" upthread... that certainly is a PRV.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

haha

(#308589)

i wish you continued success in your debating strategy.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Maybe PR, Maybe Not, But I Though it Pretty Funny and....

(#308587)

...well written.

 

Nilsey deserves points for style and brio...and on a written forum, this counts for a lot!

 

Vigor; vivacity: "She tells their story with brio and a mixture of sympathy and tart insight" (Michiko Kakutani).
[Italian, from Spanish brio or Provençal briu, both of Celtic origin; see gwer-1 in Indo-European roots.]

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

one things for sure

(#308561)

nobody will take action if no one even disagrees with it. So I think its ok to start there.

Also, its good to illustrate the imbalanced nature of a conservative mindset which heaps scorn on venezuelas quasi socialist government but shrugs over qatari's significantly worse policies. Its a good reminder that a central strain in conservatism is irrationally focusing and hating on left leaning governments. That irrationality has real world consequences right at home.

That's a load of poo.

(#308563)

Who's nobody? Presumably some disagree with the situation, what have they done?  If sanctimonious and self-righteous commenting on a blog is all the effort they can spare then they are wasting valuable electrons.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

So youd like nilsey to personally get involved

(#308564)

in every situation where he believes theres injustice or not express an opinion? I think your gotcha point here is making less sense than youd like it to.

Nilsey may do whatever he pleases.

(#308565)

Some are bothered by this and feel a need to huff hot air around.  Some are less bothered.  Personally I think the situation sucks for Nepalese labor but also fully admit that the odds are I'm going to do exactly the same as you and Nilsey, which is Jack sh*t, about it.  You are completely free to feel superior, I'm completely free to be honest with myself.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

this is a sophmoric debating point

(#308566)

You really shouldnt wheel it out. Especially if its only selectively against liberals. What exactly is bird dog planning on doing about price fixing in venezuela? Or is he just gonna huff and puff?

Nobody Seems To Be Doing Anything About Anything

(#308567)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Which makes whining about what other people choose not to do anything about as some sort of reproach to what they *do* choose to object to, well, sophomoric. And the person who initiated this particular exchange? Hint--it wasn't Darth.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I dont know what we're arguing about anymore

(#308573)

I just dont see that any comments fit the 'sanctimonious liberals who make themselves feel good but dont do squat' narrative that Darth wanted to run with.

Also, I hope you contributed something personally to the forces opposing nanny bloomberg rather than just expressed an opinion about his policies on the net.

Actually, it was more about 'sanctimonious' and less

(#308582)

about, well absolutely nothing really, to do with liberals.  Also, the issue isn't about having a differing opinion on an issue, nor is it about feeling issue X is more important than issue Y.  But if you're going to criticize other's priorities and interests while doing the exact same thing as them (which appears to be squat) then you've pretty much defined sanctimony. 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Overly broad

(#308598)

then pretty much every opinion you have which is not leading to direct action is sanctimonious.

 

Also, I pointed out that it's worth talking about this issue in the coveted nascent American soccer market in a public forum, even a small one. Personally, I'm precisely the type of on-the-fence soccer consumer that FIFA marketers should be worried about losing. If World Cup organizations don't do anything about slaves dying to build its stadiums, that's a turn off to me and I may not watch it.

 

Also also, I pointed out that the anti-left-leaning-government bias in conservative thinking that was illustrated here does have direct consequences in the US, even if not in Qatar.

 

Other than that, you got this one right.

haha

(#308588)

But if you're going to criticize other's priorities and interests while doing the exact same thing as them (which appears to be squat) then you've pretty much defined sanctimony commenting at the forvm.

fixed that for you.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Bingo -nt-

(#308584)
M Scott Eiland's picture

.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

this whole exchange is priceless

(#308575)

the diary is about a real issue, and there's a collective rightward shrugging of shoulders about that.... but a ton of pixels are flying in a big huff the minute someone points it out.

 

remonstrating someone for not running out to rescue nepalese slaves in this backwater debating society is pretty funny too.... "if you think its such a big DEAL... whyncha DOOO sumthin about it, huh????"

 

priceless....

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

heh

(#308555)

The government's evil exit visa laws are partially at fault, so a conservative should have some mental room to maneuver here.

 

But condemning the situation would run the risk of admitting that laborers aren't always perfectly equal parties with their employers in employment contracts. And condemning the situation would also involve criticizing a private company that isn't granting its workers the freedom to quit or leave the country. 

 

So I guess it's no dice.

but they aren't allowed to leave.

(#308535)

that doesn't bother you?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Only if they weren't told so beforehand

(#308553)
Bird Dog's picture

nt

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

They weren't.

(#308554)
mmghosh's picture

But this is definitely something the Nepalese Government Foreign Ministry should be doing for its citizens.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

and failing that the Qatar governemnt should step in

(#308569)

to ensure the workers are fairly employed. 

 

But they will not because they couldn't give 2 figs about nepalese labour. 

There can be problems with Nepalese labour, as the UN in Haiti

(#308572)
mmghosh's picture

found.  Yes, the Qatari government should probably be doing something too, but as the main issue seems to be the Nepalese contract hirers, I would think the Nepal Government has more to do here.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Arbeit macht

(#308536)

etc

Good diary, Manish..... but

(#308521)
Jay C's picture

... this is not exactly a new or unusual situation in the Gulf (except, perhaps, for the sheer scale -and cost - of the Qatari infrastructure program). I have read reportage for years about the Gulf States' wholesale importation of labor from other, impoverished countries; and, of course, the abuses of said labor force. Including the high debt load the third-world laborers have to incur to "recruiters". But AFAICT, the core of the issue boils down to this comment:

 

The safety situation here is Qatar is well known to Qataris and Nepalis, but the latter still queue up to come. Surely there is a problem in Nepal that needs addressed (sic).

One has to wonder just who benefits (other than Qatari contractors who get rock-bottom labor costs)? Usually "contract" workers from the poorest-of-the-poor nations - however ill-paid - get to make more than their domestic jobs (if indeed, they have any) would provide. That doesn't seem to be the case in Qatar.

 

Well, yes, technically the entire Gulf region is built on labour

(#308526)
mmghosh's picture

imported from the subcontinent, and the Philippines.

 

As were London, Paris and New York built by the historically exploited proletariat, too, in the past with horrendous construction deaths no doubt.  The especial issue with the Gulf is that the proletariat are all non-citizens.

 

From my experience, not many of our people actually like living there - in the desert, I mean.  Particularly I would think Nepalis from their homes in the shadows of the Himalayas.  It does show an  extreme deprivation locally - they also have a history of exporting their labour, I'm thinking especially of Gurkha mercenaries.  The corruption (most of the slave traders are rich Nepalese contractors) that is almost always associated with an extremely right-wing conservative country led to a protracted Maoist insurgency until pretty recently.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Yep

(#308523)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Understandable that the governments of the nations losing citizens to this are perturbed, but some of their other citizens seem to be eager participants in the process--and according to an article linked in the linked piece, some of them are resorting to fraud to get underage workers over to Qatar. Perhaps redoubled efforts to deal with the criminals at home is called for.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Ha. The Qatar Air air stewardess, that's another import

(#308529)
mmghosh's picture

on the other side of the scale.

 

Of course the World Cup was bought and paid for - what will a country with a population about the size of a large village here do with the 9 stadiums?  Not to speak of having the World Cup in the winter in the middle of European season at temperatures of over 40 degrees.  The payoff must have been stupendous, and that's just to UEFA.

 

Naturally I don't object to people from here being gainfully employed in the ME, even though this is a colossal and completely pointless waste of resources and Qatar has the world's highest CO2 emissions.  Also, the Qataris/ Western project consultants running the show are simply a little stupid in not window dressing the slavery.  At least they should have kept an eye on the death rates - if no one/fewer had died, I don't think too much fuss would have been made over low wages and so forth.  

 

Also, this chimes in with catchy's tremendous observation that our current egregious elites are simply not bothered about window dressing any more.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Qataris know how to bribe

(#308543)

It's still a travesty.  Wait, it's being held in the winter?  Yeah that sucks for club players.

Excellent post. Modern day slavery.

(#308517)

Front page this please mods.

Guardian reports.

(#308512)
mmghosh's picture

Can't edit from a mobile.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/25/revealed-qatars-world-cup-slaves

 

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead

 

 

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency