Qatar Amends Foreign Labor Laws

October 11, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. amend /əˈmɛnd/ (v.) – to do slight changes in a law or rule and improve it
Example: The government wants to amend the constitution to make it more updated.

2. mandatory /ˈmæn dəˌtɔr i/ (adj.) – required and necessary
Example: Officials said getting vaccine shots was mandatory.

3. grouse /graʊs/ (v.) – to complain in a mild manner
Example: He groused on his boss’ several orders.

4. exploit /ˈɛk splɔɪt/ (v.) – to make use of something unfairly and for selfish gains
Example: Some employers exploit first-time job seekers.

5. massively /ˈmæs ɪvli/ (adv.) – in a very large number
Example: The number of overseas workers rose massively from last year.


Read the text below.
Qatar’s government has announced that it will amend its employment system amid accusations of abusive treatment of foreign workers.

According to Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al Khoulaifi [ab-DOO-la sa-le moo-ba-RAK al-koo-LAHY-fi], Qatar’s Labor and Social Affairs Minister, bank accounts for every employee will soon be mandatory. This order aims to monitor proper compensation. The amendment would also include policies that will prevent employees from working at midday in the heat of the summer. Also, Qatar’s Labor Department will offer multi-lingual booths where foreign workers can grouse about work-related matters using their native language.

The amendments were done in response to allegations that Qatar exploits its laborers who are mostly foreigners. In a 2013 article by the British publication The Guardian, a reporter revealed that several Nepalese [nep-uh-LEEZ] construction workers in Qatar had died and that overseas workers have inadequate food and water supplies. However, authorities from Nepal and Qatar denied these reports.

Foreign employees in Qatar and some Middle East countries face a tight employment procedure called “Kafala.” Under this system, laborers depend on their employers for acquiring legal stay in the country through sponsorship. Also, Kafala lets companies withhold employees’ passports and refuse requests for change of job.

Qatar’s government said that a better system will replace Kafala. However, Qatar did not specify further details or date of the new system’s implementation.

In preparation for Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022, construction firms massively hire laborers who are usually from foreign states. Qatar, the country with the highest proportion of migrant workers in the world, had 1.5 million foreign residents in 2013 and only 278,000 native citizens.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the amendments will completely prevent work exploitations in Qatar? Why or why not?
·         If you were a foreign laborer in Qatar, how would you handle problematic situations concerning your employer?

Discussion B

·         Is it good to have many foreign workers in your country? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think some companies have unfair employment systems?

October 11, 2014