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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Does living in Qatar require making moral compromises?

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

As a country with great wealth, widespread diversity and rapid development – but also stark class divisions and documented human rights abuses – Qatar is often the subject of great debate, both here at home and abroad.

Among the questions that some residents struggle with is whether choosing to work and live here makes one complicit in accepting the status quo.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to one former expat, the answer to that question is complicated.

In an opinion piece titled “The Moral Conflict of Living and Working in Qatar” for personal finance website Billfold, Dane Wisher said that he is often asked whether Qatar is a good place to live and work.

The former community college professor, who spent three years here and recently returned to the US, said that as an American, he found Qatar to be full of opportunity, new experiences and comfort.

But he also warned that living here too long can make one numb to the suffering of others:

“The place has a way of sucking you in with its material comforts and opportunities for travel. It has a way of making you forget the bad stuff or, worse, becoming inured to it.

…As a human being you get used to passing emaciated workers on construction sites on the walk to the Kempinsky or the Four Seasons. You get used to seeing Qatari men browbeat—and sometimes actually beat—South Asian drivers on the side of the road. You grow accustomed to watching workers on break line up in the shade of a single palm tree as the dirt sizzles around them in August. You stop registering the busses with no air-conditioning carrying the laborers to and from their cramped quarters. You stop noting the way the men press their dusty faces out the open windows for air.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He concluded that though he is better off personally for having lived here, many people aren’t so lucky:

“Realistically, you have to decide if the money and opportunity are worth the abuses that your presence in Qatar helps to legitimize through your taking part in it. You are working in a place built on labor practices that would be outlawed in your home country. It really isn’t an easy choice, especially when you want the work and a great professional opportunity presents itself, but it’s one you do tacitly make when you go there. You may not realize it at first, but you have to be willfully obtuse not to see it once you’re there.”

Read the full opinion piece here.

Thoughts?

177 COMMENTS

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Gaga
Gaga
5 years ago

Government officials doesn’t understand how expatriates are longing to abolish kalafa and exit permit systems because they have no first-hand experience on how hard to earn a 3 digit-salary, ride on a transportation without air-conditioner, and toil under the sun in almost 50 degrees Celsius. I admit, Qatar is a land of opportunities, but if they continue to practice these kind of systems (I guess it’s a part of the oil curse), I’d rather live in the Antarctica with the penguins.

Whatever
Whatever
5 years ago

I agree with many aspects of this story and acknowledge that while I am here purely for economic reasons I will take away a lot more than just a few dollars when I eventually leave. Meaning that culturally my world has opened up immensely and that I can share my first hand experiences (good and bad) with western friends and colleagues who have no understanding of the hardships endured by so many people here. Yes there is an element of becoming ‘hardened’ to the suffering which goes on here but hopefully there is still an understanding of it and all the western expats who do time here can enlighten a few others across the globe as to the true state of affairs here. This has got to be a good outcome if only in a small way for the ordinary Brit or Yank or Aussie to be able to have a greater comprehension of how the economics and social strata of Qatar works.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Whatever

The countries you mention have their imperfections too. Your friends only need to look within their borders and at their foreign policies over decades to see them.

May Chance
May Chance
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Do many wrongs make a right? Is an argument that others have done wrong make it okay for others to do so? Doesn’t the cycle have to stop somewhere?

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  May Chance

Absolutely not (…wrongs make a right) but this sort of amnesia does no one any good. Better to solve problems simultaneously.

RS99
RS99
5 years ago

Absolutely there is a moral compromise. My high salary is partly due to the unfairly low pay (and inhumane working conditions) of the labour force that build the country.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  RS99

this is funny .

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

It’s a very interesting question, we are here because Qatar has money and a need for professionals but does any country have justification to be morally acceptable. America launched an illegal war against Iraq, (despite the fact saddam and his regime was nasty to its own people and others around them) or you could work in India, where slavery still exits and the abuse of rich Indians to poor Indians is something disgusting to see. You could work in Saudi, a corrupt place that persecutes religious minorities and the treatment of Asians is scandalous. You could work in China where they use prisoners as slave labourers and trample over minority rights, which ironically is them discriminating against Muslims in the west.

I think unless you are the peen dong the direct abusing and you treat people with fairness and dignity it is acceptable to work in Qatar. If your morals are so absolute then there is no where you can work expect possibly an Antarctic scientific station.

Honza
Honza
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Good points and let us not forget about the companies which are manufacturing in many parts of Asia despite the ill treatment, abuse,child labour…etc

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

And in America, as a citizen you would have essentially funded that through tax dollars under the guise that your best interests are represented through a two-party “democracy” in which the President who fought that war wasn’t elected by the people. Also I don’t know if you “get used” to seeing Qatari men hurling abuse and beating workers, bit of a stretch, also….should probably call the police if you see someone beating someone, or say something

Reem
Reem
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

This is a thoughtful and thorough comment.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

its funny when ppl talk about morals, when at the end of the day, the money its what define it. lets face it no one is here for the good of the country, the are here for the good money .

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Probably true in most cases but not all. I didn’t come for the money I came for the adventure, it’s true not paying tax is a bonus but I kinda like it here and the work is interesting. I guess I am luckly I don’t need the money and if it ever became too much I could just leave, others whether greedy or desperate for the money don’t have that option.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

(for the Adventure)!!! , YEAH right .
( I dont need the money )!!! Come on dude.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Seriously dude, it depends on your field. Particularly for educators, Qatar is bang on internationally average. That’s why you get such turnover in many of the international schools – folks doing two years and then moving on. That’s also why so many of them like South Africans – given the economy there, the incentive to stay in Qatar is greater than for those from some other countries. Qatar (or Dubai or Abu Dhabi) has become like Japan or Korea – it is just another one of the standard stops on the international circuit.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

but they are not experiencing anything , not using the language or interacting with it ppl of that culture , its expat meeting with other expat . so what is the point . it will always the money , so the point your making is not valid.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

True, many people go to Japan or Argentina or Korea out of a deep interest in the culture, but in Qatar that is extremely rare. But then to be fair, Qataris are extremely rare. In many fields you can do an entire contract and the only Qataris you see are in the shopping malls. Qatar’s very odd demographics and the weird segregation of employment and living means that there is extremely little opportunity (or need) to interact with Qataris. I’m told by very old-timers that 30 years ago it wasn’t like that and it was not unusual to have Qatari friends and to socialise at each other’s homes, but that has gone away as Qatar changed its demographics and cultural makeup.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

(Qataris are extremely rare) which makes it even more important don’t you think , ( you can do an entire contract and the only Qataris you see are in the shopping malls ) which prove my point its all about the money ,business , nothing to do experiencing the culture of Qatar or its ppl like some hypocrites say .

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Qataris and their ways are only one small part of the great kaleidoscope that is Qatar. I think that we need to distinguish between the culture of Qatar and the culture of Qataris. They are not the same thing at all. My experience has been that people very much immerse themselves in the culture of Qatar and have almost zero experience with the culture or Qataris. That comes down to the demographics and employment/residence separation mentioned earlier I think.

andrew hall
andrew hall
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

I would agree with your point, it is very easy to simply blame the “Qataris” for all ills. This is a small minded view, the worst instances of worker abuse I have seen have come from companies owned and operated by South Asians. This is not all cases and I do not want to accuse an entire race, it is only me talking of what I have seen with my own eyes.

In saying that however Qatar is responsible for its laws and the enforcement of those laws. In those areas Qatar must take responsibility and press hard to improve!

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

Agreed 100%, but as you say, at the end of the day a Qatari is the owner and the companies are answerable to Qatari law that isn’t being enforced.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Oh trust me, they are experiencing a lot, a tremendous amount. Qatar is such an incredible melting pot of cultures and ways of thinking. It, and to a lesser extent Kuwait and the Emirates, are demographically like nowhere else on earth. You can experience so much in such a fast and condensed form that it can be extremely disorienting.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

lost in translation , many things loss their meaning when they are translated , or cannot be translated , so when you say tremendous amount of experiencing going on here, i totally disagree , its barely happening

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

No, it is barely happening with the culture of the Qataris, a great deal of interaction is happening with the culture of Qatar. My wife has never met a Qatari, but she goes out with Indians and Pakistani ladies regularly, the kids are learning French and Arabic at school, I’m working with a South Korean who has taught me some cool tricks – this is all part and parcel of the culture of Qatar and not something that is so easily found elsewhere. It is part of what makes Qatar so interesting an experience.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

so you can do it some where els m as long there is money provided , nothing to do with experiencing you host culture

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

which prove ( your here for the money )

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

What? I don’t see how you get that from what I wrote above.

Grace
Grace
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

But not everyone complains; just like Qataris don’t like being stereotyped neither do expats.
And it is normal to complain sometimes, no matter where you are…it’s normal no where is perfect.

Grace
Grace
5 years ago
Reply to  Grace

Apologies, that comment was not meant for you. But the other replier.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Grace

I gathered.

Grace
Grace
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

That doesn’t make sense to their reply.
A little bit of a cynical fellow, aren’t you?
Don’t think anyone could convince you otherwise. It’s either all expats are here for money and cannot enjoy the country (kinda sad coming from a Qatari) and if they say they do enjoy being here they are liars.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Grace

when someone nag all the time about the place of living / working , & then say they are here ( enjoying / being here what would that make them ??? hypocrite Angeles !!!!

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

You, young man/lady, are painting with a very broad brush, don’t you think?

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

ill try to keep it within the lines , LOL

HumanOnly
HumanOnly
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

What about those of us who leave the west and come here for the religion? We want our kids to grow up in a safe Muslim countr where one can practice Islam freely without discrimination and that’s what many Muslim westerners dream of but what no one tells you is that when you arrive here it’s not the Muslim country you dream of. As a Muslim coming from the west you get the shock of your life that besides the benefit of being able to wear religious clothing with no problems and listening to the adhan 5 times a day, we are shock to see many Qataris and other Muslims of different nationalities behaving very unislamic such as drinking alcohol, flirting, oppressing and discriminating others based on nationality, color of the skin, social status, etc. And they are so blinded by wordly materialistic things. ..worrying more about this dunya than the akhira by spending millions on a stupid special license plate than helping the needy. I’m not saying you do this because I don’t know you but you can’t deny this is a huge problem in Qatar. …where is the true Islam? Name a Muslim country that has great leaders and an honest religious government like the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Sahaba? ?? We’re not all in this world for the money.

HumanOnly
HumanOnly
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

And adding more to my comment below. ..please ask your fellow Qatari men and women. How are they going to spend this Ramadan that’s just around the corner? Fasting, reading and reciting Quran, praying, helping the poor, making duaa, asking for forgiveness and doing good deeds as much as possible OR stuffing yourself with food that you can’t get up to pray, staying up late drinking tea and eating and hanging out with friends just talking, listening to music or watching special soap operas especially made to entertain people during Ramadan instead of helping people worship Allah subhana was ta’ala on this holy month? OK I’m done!

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  HumanOnly

Deleting for stereotyping.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

I have just described the host culture above, and how much my family is experiencing it.

Smarty Salwars
Smarty Salwars
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Just because an expat doesn’t meet with a Qatari doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing anything. You can’t lump all the expats together given that they are from all over the world, so one expat meeting another expat in Qatar is an experience of its own which is unique to the GCC. Expats also do meet with Qataris as much as Qataris meet with expats.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Smarty Salwars

do expats talk to Qataris in Arabic or English ?
the moment you say English , you lose your argument , when you go to china , how many chines will understand your English ,if you working/studying, will have more interaction with one who had the time to learn you language

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

True, in China or Korea you are forced to learn the language to survive. Qatar has made it so that is not necessary. I’ve never had to use Arabic to use a bank, or buy groceries, or go to a restaurant, but in China the local language is a complete necessity. However, Arabic is very much not needed for a successful life in Qatar because of the way that the demographics work. For daily life, English, Hindi and Urdu are much more useful than Arabic. We can wonder why the Qataris have designed it that way, but I think that we can agree that it is a barrier to getting to know locals. Of more interest to me is why Qatar doesn’t hire more Arabic speaking staff, or if they insist on hiring non-Arabic speakers why don’t they offer Arabic lessons as part of the recruitment process? I got four months of Chinese lessons before going to work in China, I’ve never heard of an employer in Qatar offering Arabic lessons. Why not?

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

your not force to learn chines to live there , you must since you gonna live there .

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Ummm, what?

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

I studied Arabic for many years before coming here and lived in other Arab states. There is translation, and there is an attitude of openness and willingness to understand that needs both sides. Of course, even if you study Arabic you can’t become (or are very unlikely to) an insider in a close society like this no matter how much shakhsiyya you may or may not have. But that is in the nature of things and doesn’t mean that some expats aren’t here genuinely enjoying the work they do, hopefully being compensated fairly for their work (relative to what they could make and the lifestyle they could have in their native country), and being pleased if that work can in some way help out Qatar. But I imagine for many Qataris when people who don’t read Arabic talk about issues here in a way that is frequently misinformed about the extent to which locals in fact do discuss such issues (just not with outsiders so much & in their own lahja). Sometimes westpats suggest that Qataris don’t recognize the importance of x or y big issue without seeing the irony that many Qataris can read the western press whereas most western expats cannot understand Arabic and so flock here to Dohanews.co as a weak substitute for the local word on the street. That must be annoying. But as a local you can either remain annoyed or be welcoming and try to overcome these barriers. It’s your choice. To paraphrase Aristotle: the business in the choosing is not in the doing but in the making. By our choices we make ourselves into the person we will become.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

You can believe or not but there are few places in the world you can work where so many different peoples and cultures are thrown together. It’s part of what makes DN comments so fun and I’m glad we have Qataris commentating as well.
I certaintly don’t need the money.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

i wish i can say i believe you, but i dont

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

I believe him.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

good for you

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Tell you what, you get yourself a trade or profession that is internationally in demand, get on the international circuit, do 4 or 5 countries and then we’ll have this conversation again in 25 years.

brorick
brorick
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

maybe what MIMH is trying to say is similar to me…although the money here is good, back home its not that much worse. the reason im here isnt for the money either as my job doesnt pay a great over what id get in the UK (fair enough taxes would take a chunk out of my salary but at the end of the day they are there to run schools, hospitals, (wars) etc so it doesnt other me that much).

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  brorick

Indeed, and when you add the ridiculous school fees it easily counterbalances taxes.

Peaches
Peaches
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I’d like to know what adventure you are talking about. I like it here because everyone is so relaxed, there is no need to rush around to do anything since there is pretty much nothing to do.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Peaches

Nice one!!

Bingo
Bingo
5 years ago

There are more good things here than the bad things, if they can abolish Kafala and Exit permit alot can change for good.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Bingo

i doubt it, ppl will find another things to Nag about .

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Of course they will. That’s what Democracy is for and its a good thing.

People will always have complaints, but if you listen real hard…. there will always be some nuggets that can really be beneficial and helpful.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Elkhorn

Democracy !!!, since when expat ( not immigrants ) have a saying in another s country politics??,
i will listen to ppl who can talk to me in my own language & understand my culture . wont you??

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

If you’re looking for people to talk to you in your own language, should you actually be here? If you want people to talk to you in your own language, shouldn’t you use your own language?

Huzz
Huzz
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

The de facto language is English here.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

unless you want nationals hearing you , its ARABIAN , language & culture .

Huzz
Huzz
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

They will learn it too eventually. Everybody does.

qatar
qatar
5 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

no body really do, so that’s why nobody will hear anything.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatar

Well, why does it matter? You’ve made it clear above that you only value the opinion of those from your group.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

You seem to be pretty keen to have expats hear you. Why else would you be on this foreign website?

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Funny, I appreciate the input and merits of people from a variety of language and cultural groups. It is a shame that you have chosen to limit yourself so. There is much to learn from if you look outside of your own group.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Deleting this thread for getting off track.

Ibrahim Ali
Ibrahim Ali
5 years ago

There is a reason he is community college professor, he is unparalleled stupidity.

Guest
Guest
5 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Well it depends what you mean by stupidity. For me, it’s the inability to see or understand the truth when it’s glaringly obvious.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Guest

I wouldn’t call him stupid but I find it interesting that a man from a country that has helped keep dictators in place all over the world, bombed others and in various ways making those countries unpleasant places to live in resulting in large pools of underpaid labourers sees no moral dilemmas in his own country.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Assasinated or been complicit in removing heads of states, exploting entire countries for their resources, to name a few more

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
5 years ago

I read the article and it’s quite critical. Will he also be sued sometime soon?

Doodz
Doodz
5 years ago

Qatar unmasked!!! I just wonder that those who are in a blue collar job is being abuse? Receiving a very low salary!

KJD
KJD
5 years ago

Yes, and while stateside he probably steps over the feet of the person living on the streets who is holding a cardboard sign begging for money, and who sleeps on a park bench even in the winter with not even a sleeping bag to keep him warm. All while he heads off to Starbucks for his next overpriced coffee which he sips while typing up his blog piece on his Mac.

So much easier to see the perceived injustices of other countries than it is to see the injustices in your own.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  KJD

well said sir

Joe
Joe
5 years ago

We have to admit: most of the time if we have to choose between following our moral instinct or keeping our pockets full, we choose the latter.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago

Wisher: foreigners who live in your country have moral dilemmas too. The U.S. never learned from its ugly and totally unnecessary intervention in Vietnam and launched a war against Iraq on false grounds; the U.S. supported dictatorial regimes in South America, Asia, and Africa for decades which made opposition movements largely ineffective; the U.S. is home to large corporate entities that thrive on underpaid and overworked labourers in developing countries etc.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago

Also, how many innocent civilians continue to die from U.S. drone attacks? Why are African Americans protesting on your streets centuries after they were shipped to your shores? No moral dilemma? How easy is it for foreigners to forget the troubled nature of their own countries when they come to Qatar.

Joe
Joe
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Agreed. The difference is the system in the U.S. allows the victims to present their case in public. The media and civil rights movements play a vital role in exposing those unjust practices.
In some parts of the world, that is not an option.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Joe

True and sometimes it is not an option because the government in question enjoys moral and/or material support of the U.S. etc. I can’t tell you how many times, growing up there were ugly demos in front of U.S. embassy because people blamed it (quite rightly) of supporting the dictator of the day. You are repressed mercilessly and you retreat to lick your wounds because you have little to respond to the might unleashed upon you.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Joe

( THE US ALLOWS THE VICTIMS TO PRESENT THEIR CASE IN PUBLIC) ,i hope you really rethink this, Guantanamo prisons are been held their by the US government without being even getting the reason for it ) & the Western media don’t mention it. apparently those practices are common in that part of the world.

Whatever
Whatever
5 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Yes the U.S. does in ‘most’ cases provide some means for victims of injustice to be heard. Guantanamo Bay is one case where this does not happen. Civilian causalities of drone attacks by the USA in Yemen and Pakistan are another.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

And of course the Saudis and other GCC nations are murdering women and children in Yemen through their air strikes as we speak, so no countries can really hold the moral high ground.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

True but the problem is that there is a tendency for certain countries to indeed assume that moral high ground.

Dalia
Dalia
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

In spite of the mistakes the US (and the West in general has made), it is still the place people want to be. Ask any immigrant in the US, be it Palestinian, Persian, Mexican, Colombian, Chinese, Nigerian, etc. if they would leave their life in the US to go back to their home country. You will find the majority will say no, including myself. Because while it’s not perfect, it still respects human rights and an individual has an opportunity to advance. A corporation could be sued for millions of dollars if found guilty of racial discrimination in the work place. Look at the Muslim girl who just recently won her lawsuit against major corporation Abercrombie & Fitch for discrimination against her because she wore a hijab.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Dalia

The point is not that the U.S. is all bad but how many Palestinians would rather the U.S. had adopted a different foreign policy line towards their region? How many Nigerians would rather the U.S. had approached the Biafran War differently or its approach to the governments that followed? Then there is trade policy etc. We can’t know how many people would not have left. I have no stats but it would also be interesting to study the rates of people in the U.S. choosing to live, even for a year, Asia etc which they would never have considered previously.

Dalia
Dalia
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

But the US isn’t to blame for the majority of the woes affecting various countries. The U.S. is not to blame for the corruption, for example, in Latin America which has sent millions of immigrants to the US as a result. Just ask any immigrant in the US, not a white westerner, about how they perceive the U.S. and you will find that while some might think it’s an evil country there’s millions of others that depend on making a living there for their own survival and they give thanks they can live there rather than their country of origin. It’s easy to criticize a country without thinking how another less fortunate person can value it.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Dalia

What you say of the U.S. one could say of Qatar. In fact, last year, there was a story on this very website of some blue collar worker from my country saying how glad they were to be working in Qatar. That however, does not mean that constructive pressure on Qatar for labour reform should stop. And yes, the U.S. is certainly not to blame for problems world over but precisely because of its size and power, it has impacted many for better or worse. Lastly, history does not support your argument about Latin America and the U.S. The U.S. has a history of abominable behaviour in Latin America that one cannot simply overlook.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  Dalia

Ummm, look no further to Panama to see the devastating effects of corruption caused by the US

Joe
Joe
5 years ago

Multinational corporations conducts in Southeast Asia and Latin America are a clear testify of that.
You may also add the indifferent attitudes of the expat communities in the Gulf, you get a clearer picture of how we stand on moral issues.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago

Perhaps take these comments to to the comment post of the original article

Dalia
Dalia
5 years ago

Definitely have to make moral compromises if you live here, whoever would deny that is lying. That’s why I left. Special/preferred treatment because of my light skin really eroded at my consciousness and that my comfort is at the expense of another’s suffering.

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago

Anyone else notice the usual online HR defender crew are mysteriously absent from this article’s comment section? LOL!

Guest
Guest
5 years ago

I would have hoped some people would maintain the same morals they do at home here, including some westerners.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago

Absolutely. It is amazing the number if people who do a contract and choose not to renew because they have moral issues with the system. It equally interesting the number of people who did Qatar and left who now speak of the system. This level of insider knowledge didn’t exist in a form available to the public five years ago.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

And yet more stay or keep coming. Not because Qatar has no flaws but because they are not viewing the rest of the world through rose tinted glasses.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

True, those with choices and better options are the ones who have the luxury of voting with their feet when their conscience bothers them too much; most in Qatar don’t have that option.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

A good number of those who do have that choice are here nevertheless. How many blue collar workers are living in The Pearl and Westbay? I’m not saying they lack a conscience but there are those who see flaws in other countries too. Perhaps it is better to engage a country through education, scientific research, cultural exchanges, trade etc than through drones, bombs and isolation. The former holds more promise for contributing to longer term change in the right direction.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Wasn’t aware that anyone was bombing Qatar from Drones, missed that news.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Your own interpretation…

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Actually, it was you who brought it up.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Differing standards of intellectual ability quite evident among us. No need for further elaboration.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

Please, don’t talk about the other posters on this site in that way, they may get offended.

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Actually they don’t struggle to understand simple points as you are right now.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Deleting this thread for devolving.

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

@Anonymouse
Do you have a source for this? And could you define what would be an “amazing” number compared to what? Sorry I’m being a bit of a jerk because I guess you are talking about friends of yours and to be sure it wouldn’t surprise me if some do leave at least in part over this. But if you know of a study that reveals this, please share (perhaps its in one of Andrew Gardner’s studies?) Anyway, my point is it’s one thing for people to feel uncomfortable about perceived inequities and injustices, and another to say that this is what causes them to leave. Perhaps a contributing factor but I doubt it is causal on its own in a substantial number of cases (which for me would be > 10 percent). I may be wrong and too cynical. What I do notice is that consistently in surveys I’ve seen in Qatar both low and high income expats indicate their expectations are that life is better than it was a year ago and will be better in 1-2 years. This is a consistent pattern for this question world-wide and is not particular to Qatar. I’m not citing it as revelatory but at the same time it provides no indication of concern over the risk of the future which one might have if large numbers were motivated by moral (or even other reasons to exit). I found no studies online on the direct question of would someone want to live here two years from now (surely this has been asked(?) cause it’s a common question) but the ratings scale over time is online and indirectly measures this. So just a quick google found this one and I know there are others too: http://sesri.qu.edu.qa/sites/default/files/Eng/ExecutiveReports/2010/OmniBus2010.pdf (p.6)
In the past I recall several studies in Qatar with this question all revealing the same directional attitude.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
5 years ago

It’s not required at all. There is no difference between a ‘good human being’ and a Muslim! Having lived here for more than twenty years I have never had an incident where ‘morals’ were a cause of disturbance.

Expat77
Expat77
5 years ago

It’s unfair to hold Qatar to western standards.. but I wish Labour laws here are more in line with those of other GCC like UAE or Kuwait or Oman…

George
George
5 years ago

3 things that would make this country one of the best to live in:

1. Erase “Wasta” status completely and treat everyone as an equal human being.

2. Abolish the Kafala laws.

3. Introduce a national minimum wage of 3,000QAR per month.

It doesn’t get any simpler….

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  George

1 & 3 are basic tennents of communism, so a bit idealistic or suggesting communism and socialism deserves another thought

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

A minimum wage was never a tenet of communism, although it could presumably be accepted within a variant attempted implementation of a notion of fair wages within a modified communist system (which technically is more concerned with means of ownership). But that would be a compromise with theoretical communism where pay – if it existed at all – would be related to family size and possibly special health considerations. Early Soviet economists, operating in a milieu of a positivist outlook towards economics, tried to implement within their already modified theoretical communism a pricing function that sought to describe costing mechanisms of every item from the trees to the finished veneer in every industry to force equilibrium in capital and labor markets so that payment to attract people from job A to B would be irrelevant. People like Bukharin and even more so his rival Preobrezhensky thought they could eventually model all elements of society so that if, for example, they needed more widgets in Siberia they’d plug that into the equation and all of the other changes needed will fall into mathematical precision. We consider this level of faith in calculation an artifact of those times, scientifically and intellectually. But to get back to the point a minimum wage was never considered part of even that process. Fabian socialism promoted the concept of a minimum wage and considered their ideas an alternative distinct from communism.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  InconnufeeDoha

Just the idea of minimum wage and its relationship to equal liability of all labor vs. the idea that implementing a minimum wage in a capitalistic sense of reducing poverty has already shown that for every 10% increase in minimum wage there is an increase in poverty levels of 3-4%. The setting of a minimum wage in communism is to “prolong and reproduce a bare existence” to base it on the maintenance and reproduction of human life “that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others”. A minimum wage calculation is then, in this context, based loosely on and founded on these ideals, to set a minimum amount that keeps the laborer in a certain level of existence. The argument in a capitalist society, is that the creation of a minimum wage without a positive change in productivity, will decrease the amount of workers higher, thus counteracting the law of demand. A debate that rages on in capitalist societies today and the reason there is a lot of controversy in the US when minimum wage increases. My claim rests on the assumption that setting a minimum wage will be founded on the posit that the amount decided will consider an extension of a bare existence, ie. cost of living, plus skill level or productivtiy assumed (grading). At the end of the day, the idea in Qatar, I believe, is that of the law of demand, the responses to the Philipino government requesting a minimum wage, which were at its base that the law of demand should dictate price, ie. if you don’t like the market in Qatar, don’t send your citizens. A foreign government however, has no interest in not sending it’s citizens as not only are they a source of expatriate welath bolstering the economy, but also support a family back home which means that the government is off the hook for social education for youth, unemployment benefits for the working class and things like social security for the retired and healthcare for all groups. The argument then is that increasing the minimum wage or implementing one, will lead to less workers being hired, as they estimate in the US being that 217,000 in one study, will lose their jobs as a result in an increase, leading to long-term consequences such as labor saving equipment and investments. The theory being that no-one wins. As an ideal way to combat poverty, setting a minimum wage is not proven.

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

A decade ago I read a great deal of literature (technical journals not blog postings) on the relationship between minimum wage increases and price stickiness and subsequent job losses and have kept up on it less directly since. There’s a good NBER paper a decade ago summarizing it. Anyway enough to know when someone has not because no one who has makes broad claims in one direction or the other. Mostly it’s contextual but modest increases in the minimum wage have not been demonstrated in practice to behave as some of the theoretical literature by the rat exp school claims. There is little to no impact overall in cases such as the US situation today. Of course mileage from your sector may differ.. It’s one of the most over-studied issues economics. Too many people talk loosely about stuff they don’t know anything about instead of going out doing the hard work of learning math. That’s one basic problem with political discourse today.

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  InconnufeeDoha

I hasten to add I’m not talking about the Qatar situation although since it is already an imperfect market for goods and services (controls imposed from above as well as income subsidies for citizens) it is the kind of environment in which some type of minimum wage would NOT have a large impact. But I say that modestly not having looked carefully at it. There’s a conservative economist – well, he’s a military Keynesian with a stricter view of monetary policy – named Robert Looney (yes, that’s his name) who works on Gulf countries who might be more inclined to your view. That is if he’s still alive he must be old or retired now.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  InconnufeeDoha

You’ll cite a 10 year old paper summarizing (which I have a feeling is older) the relationships as proof of a superior methodology than the one you’ve assumed on me? If you’re talking about summaries, then a more recent one that looks at the topic of wage and wealth distribution would be the book by Neumark and Wascher 2008.

So in light of your broad, loose point that modest increases have not been demonstrated to behave as the theory suggest, that’s because of the past assumptions, the more recent literature looks, as you may be aware, at imperfect markets and enforcement, vs perfect competition as an assumption for the theory.

Minimum wage legislation aiming to reduce poverty, as has been brought up in this case, has not been proven, but there is a large amount of literature to suggest that the effects are the opposite, result in a wealth redistribution from low-income to low-income, or at best have no benefits. As a proponent of minimum wage you can disagree and certainly have literature to back it up, albeit decades or older is probably not a good place to start; but outside of academic research, we’re dealing with the practitioners relationship to the studies, i.e.. the law makers, here or in the US, and there isn’t enouch conclusive evidence to say that this reduces poverty or has the desired theoretical results; and as we’ve seen in the US, the rhetoric of communism, socialism, freedom and liberty is enough to cause great debate and controversy. Even when there is agreement in the cases of tobacco and global warming, on the science or economics, we still see debate, and in those cases there is a large consensus.

Is there consensus on the realtionship between minimum wage and unemployment? Not yet. Is there an assumption that it does have negative effects on employment and poverty that affects legislation on minimum wage to this day? Yes.

InconnufeeDoha
InconnufeeDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

I’ve been around awhile and yes pressure to publish has coughed up many new books on both sides but in terms of the actual pendulum swing from the data itself nothing has changed since the papers I read in the ‘oughts. The N & W work was early on trashed for selective casing, the usual deja vu all over again arguments. As you allow: there’s no consensus. Which was my point exactly because the data are mixed and context dependent. This issue is not the straw which stirs the drink regarding employment as long as changes remain within a reasonable band and the playing field is more or less kept level (i.e. no groups are selectively advantaged). And your next statement about “is there an assumption … that affects legislation” is beside the point. Lots of bad economic ideas survive decades after they’ve been put to bed in the literature and some even make their way into legislation. (“Wage and price controls” was a not so brilliant idea of the left that made it into the Nixon administration of all places long after mainstream economics had warned of its distortion effects.) Right now the minimum wage debate in the US is largely a political football for both sides. It doesn’t solve poverty issues but neither is it a death knell. Incidentally my own personal experience was that a living wage at a university I worked at caused us to reconsider our wage structure in a way that hurt our ability to promote people. At the same it helped some others underneath. I thought it was a bit of sledge-hammer for dealing with Temp employees. So I get the practical side of how it can be a problem. But overall, the statistical evidence has not for a long time supported this eternal recurrence of worry over its hypothetical consequences. A leftist (but still respected) criticism of the work you mention can be found here:
http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
5 years ago
Reply to  George

The poverty limit in Europe and the USA is around QAR 8,000. Qatar claims to be the richest country in the world should therefore introduce a minimum wage of QAR 10,000 at least.

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

The poverty limit in Spain, Greece, Portugal and other Euorpean countries is 600 euros. People getting the RMI in France end up with slightly more than 500 euros. By today’s rates 3000 riyals equals 730 euros. At 3000 riyals a month + accommodation many Europeans would be happy to be labourers in Qatar.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

And yet they are not flocking to Qatar . . .

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Because It is not 3000 riyals per month but rater around 900

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

maybe the their HR friend/family member haven’t invited them yet (wink, wink)

greylag
greylag
5 years ago

I have been a professional expatriate for over 40 years, and lived and worked in many countries. My criteria for choosing to live here is a good job and safety for my family. Qatar has both, Every country you can name has some type of social or economic problem. I feel that if I treat people correctly wherever I go, it will serve as an example for others, and if we all do the same, this can help to change the world for the better.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  greylag

you must be one of the RARE ones

sadam
sadam
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

cuz he’s white

greylag
greylag
5 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Has nothing to do with it. And if you think that YOU are racist.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Deleting for stereotyping.

MrJames
MrJames
5 years ago

For me, the answer was ‘yes’, and it was moral compromise that i was unwilling to accept. So I left.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

I think this professor and everyone else misses the point. If we didn’t come nothing would change in Qatar. Therefore you could argue it’s the moral imperative to come and make a difference.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Sure it would. If expats boycotted Qatar, there literally would be no wealth, because the oil and gas industry would all but cease to exist.

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

As if Exxon/Shell would let that happen.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
5 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

I’m not saying it would ever happen. It won’t. Worst case is that Qatar would have to pay even more than the 30 percent premiums they pay for skilled professions from such companies to relocate to Qatar.

My point is about the implications if it did happen.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

the key word here SKILLED, from what if seen around most of QATAR projects , VERY SKILLED indeed, LOL

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

ha, like they would find jobs in their countries, isn’t that the reason most expat are in Qatar.LOL

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Qatar is one stop on the circuit for many, particularly the professional expat, so I don’t know what you are talking about.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

No. If you are referring to Western expats, Most already have jobs. Going to Qatar typically comes with a pay raise and perhaps a promotion, because people generally do not want to come to Qatar.

This particularly those who are being seconded to branches of firms and companies in Qatar (mostly the US expats).

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Actually that is my point. It is because we came that this discussion is happening and things are changing. The influx of other cultures and ideas changes Qatar and the local population. (Its impossible to avoid no matter how hard you try).
If we never came, then it would stay roughly the same. Now that we are here if we did decide to leave after making the locals rich it would have a huge impact and they know it. So there is now a bargin to be struck to between their old way of life and the new realities of the modern world.

mR.digital
mR.digital
5 years ago

Actually we do have to make moral compromises . even in the health sector we are asked to prioritize Q over other people , this makes you really feel the guilt… just saying

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago
Reply to  mR.digital

Access to government funded healthcare is prioritized too elsewhere.