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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Housing ‘village’ for thousands of Qatar workers planned in Wukair

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Daruna neighborhood
Daruna neighborhood

A Qatar-based company has said it plans to start construction on a 6,000-bed labor camp outside Doha this year. The announcement comes as more contractors here are finding that their ability to win business is becoming dependent on providing high-quality workers’ accommodations.

Daruna’s first project will be located on a 150,000-square-meter plot of land in Al Wukair, which is just west of Al Wakrah. Its “village” concept includes retail space, medical clinics and four-story residential buildings clustered in “neighborhoods” around common areas.

Daruna shops
Daruna shops

“It’s a self-contained village that meets international and Qatari standards for worker housing,” Daruna (our house in Arabic) vice-chairman Joseph LeBaron, who is the former US ambassador to Qatar, told Doha News.

The key to Daruna’s business model is that its plans conform to the Qatar Foundation (QF) workers’ charter, company officials said. The document spells out living and working conditions for the employees of construction firms doing business with the non-profit entity, that go above and beyond what’s required by local laws.

Higher standards

The charter was drafted in response to international criticism of the many crowded, dilapidated and unsanitary labor camps found housing Qatar’s large blue-collar workforce.

Daruna room
Daruna room

In addition to requiring companies to pay for overtime and eschew the use of recruiters who charge worker fees, QF’s charter sets out minimum housing standards. This includes a maximum of four beds per room, allocating six square meters per resident as well as providing recreation areas.

After QF rolled out its workers’ charter, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy – which is overseeing the construction of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums and training facilities – introduced similar standards.

Qatar’s public works authority, Ashghal, is said to be mulling a workers’ charter of its own and senior Qatar Rail officials warned would-be contractors late last year to review the living conditions of their employees if they want to work on the Doha Metro.

Human rights organizations say that if adequately enforced, these charters could improve the welfare of low-income workers in Qatar, but are no substitute for national standards.

Housing shortage

Local employers have been scrambling to find accommodations for their employees as homebuilders struggle to keep pace with Qatar’s rapidly growing population.

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

With regards to the country’s blue-collar workforce, last year, Qatar-based Al-Asmakh Real Estate Development estimated that the country needs to recruit another half-million workers to construct the buildings and infrastructure projects that have already been publicly announced.

However, by its calculations, the labor camps planned and under construction can only accommodate 100,000 additional individuals.

As more companies seek higher-quality accommodation for their workers, Daruna is hoping to meet some of the demand. Its business model involves leasing land, constructing buildings on it that can be easily assembled and disassembled, renting it out to contractors in need of housing and contracting out the maintenance, catering and cleaning services.

LeBaron said Daruna has reached an agreement with a landowner and is currently pursuing the relevant licenses. Construction is expected to begin during the second quarter of this year and take 12 to 18 months, he added.

Daruna officials declined to say how much the project costs or what companies interested in renting the rooms would pay.

“It’s going to be extremely competitive,” LeBaron said.

Housing
For illustrative purposes only.

To put the market in context, The Irish Times recently reported on one labor camp in Qatar where a firm charged QR36 (US$9.89) per worker, per day, to house and feed tenants.

The project is being built on speculation without a client under contract, company officials said.

Daruna initially predicted that the first residents would move into its units by the end of 2014, but is now projecting initial occupancy in mid-2106. LeBaron said the delay was due to difficulties in securing appropriate parcels of land.

Separately, the country’s Cabinet yesterday endorsed a decision by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning to form a committee tasked with exploring the supply and demand of worker accommodations. Its responsibilities also include planning temporary and permanent labor camps “to meet the needs of state development programs” while considering rental prices.

Thoughts?

20 COMMENTS

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Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago

Where will the workers who build this live ? 😉

Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
6 years ago
Reply to  Bajn

so long as the situation for people is improving, you can’t pick at straws. If this goes ahead, it will be a massive step forward in condition. So try to be positive 😉

jalong
jalong
6 years ago

Be positive? When people are still being forced to live apart? A step forward would be to acknowledge the humanity of all residents here.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Unless you have freedom to leave the country and freedom to leave your employment and find another sponsor you have nothing – except slavery.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Didn’t the South Africans terms such places “homelands” during the apartheid years?

safari911
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

no, they were called “townships”

Muhammad
Muhammad
6 years ago
Reply to  safari911

They were called ” Hostels”. Single Men Migrant workers were housed in “Hostels” near Mines and Cities where they would work.

R.D.H
R.D.H
6 years ago
Reply to  Muhammad

I’m not sure who to believe here

safari911
6 years ago
Reply to  Muhammad

I stand corrected, the “hostels” were the same as “bachelor accomodation” or labour camps here. The townships were designated areas for the blacks to live (Soweto as classic example) and the homelands as MIMH mentioned below.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  safari911

Actually homelands were created for the blacks, usually in the bits of the country with poor form land and no natural resources. It’s kept them out of sight of the whites, while claiming it was for their benefit.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Another BS project.. But one thing I will highlight, a lot of folks across several articles always comment on why low cost housings are being built outside city main areas and in distant locations… Ppl have to understand these housing projects are being run by Commerical entities and not by non profits … They coma lines need to lease or purchase the land and to ensure the rent is cheap they must build in area far away from the main cities where land is cheaper.. Building such a project in hilal or dihual will literally mean rent would be six or seven folds higher

Timothy Thomason
Timothy Thomason
6 years ago

Sorry your article is incorrect the going rate for QF approved accommodations are almost 58QR per day going on a 31 day computation

AAH
AAH
6 years ago

11th March,

CMC officials: Qatar needs more affordable high-rise accommodations and 12th March this ?????

MrJames
MrJames
6 years ago

wonder if they’ll put ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ over the gates..

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  MrJames

Ooooo, satire……

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  MrJames

The gate with “Arbeit Macht Frei” in Dachau was stolen overnight.

Blue
Blue
6 years ago

Good initiative however I do not see any entertainment in the complex – need to adopt the workers accommodation Shell developed for their GTL project for all contractors. That is the benchmark.

Another issue is proximity to worksites – guess another would have to be built closer to Lusail area to cater to projects North of Doha.

Important to create Qatar as an attractive destination for labour as it is a key strategic category for the development of Qatar – it now has to compete with regional developments as well as home countries doing well

Maui
Maui
6 years ago

I personally believe that providing workers with good accommodation is not the only thing authorities/committees need to give focus on.
Depriving your workers enough sleep/rest is also one thing.
What is the use of having a good accommodation if it’s going to make the workers to wake up early to catch up with the travel time to reach their work sites and less sleep as they will reach their camps late at night and more time to cook for their meals/dinner as the good accommodation is located outside of Doha?

Well, it’s gonna be okay if companies will offer free food as well to their workers.

Just asking…..

Altaf
Altaf
6 years ago

Do the workers get even simple homes by their Government in native countries or even a job ?? Here they not only get the job but with multiple times higher pay.

Romulus
Romulus
6 years ago
Reply to  Altaf

answer to your question from a former expat –
no i didnt get any home or job provided by my government when i returned, however the job i did get in Europe was higher paid than in Qatar.

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