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Doha
Friday, June 18, 2021

Qatar expat moves into restaurant as he awaits exit papers

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For illustrative purposes only.
For illustrative purposes only.

The Philippines embassy in Qatar has called upon a former restaurant owner to take responsibility for an employee who has been left homeless for the past eight months and is trying to leave the country.

The young Filipino man, who asked not to be named, is currently living in the Roti King at the Al Jazeera Petrol Station. The restaurant, which is undergoing renovations, has been his home since last September.

He told Doha News that he simply wants to return to his home country, preferably with the back pay that he says he’s owed.

“One day, my sponsor just said that he couldn’t provide me with any more accommodation or transport, so we had to live in a stockroom on the first floor of the restaurant. He told us that if Baladiya came, we had to lock the door, but that we could stay there for now,” he said.

Lekhwiya
Lekhwiya

He added that he is not in possession of his passport and that his Qatar ID has expired. This leaves him vulnerable to being arrested if he’s stopped by the police and may create problems when he does eventually try to leave the country.

The Philippines embassy has “advised” the man’s sponsor to pay his employee his unpaid March salary, his end-of-service gratuity and “process his exit formalities.”

A spokesperson for the embassy told Doha News that it has not received any response to its letter, which was dated April 4. The spokesperson said he was waiting to discuss the situation with the man further before deciding on any additional action.

Contract swapped

The man said he came to Qatar in September 2012 under a contract seen by Doha News, to work for a cleaning and hospitality company. However, when he arrived in the country, the man said he was told that the company was not operating and that he’d work as a server at Roti King instead, despite holding a degree in restaurant management.

“I studied for four years, and to see where I’m working now. It’s sad. I didn’t work so hard to do this,” he said.

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

Along with being assigned a different job, the man said the QR1,500 monthly salary he was promised was reduced to QR1,000.

Contract substitution, where expats are promised a different salary and job in their home country than what awaits them in Qatar, is one of the most frequently documented issues by human rights advocates who study migrant rights.

This weekend, The Peninsula reported on the case of an expat who came to Qatar on a domestic cook’s visa, only to be forced to work on a livestock farm near the Saudi border.

Some expats have said they would not have come to Qatar if they knew how little money they’d actually be making, especially since many are forced to accumulate debts in their home country to pay illegal recruitment fees.

How to effectively police the issue from Qatar, however, is less than clear since many of the transgressions happen outside the country’s borders. Some labor-sending countries, such as Bangladesh, have responded by signing agreements with Qatar that force companies in this country to only hire nationals who are registered in a government database in their home country.

No way home

Despite the lower pay, the man said he continued to work at the restaurant to help support his family in the Philippines, where his father was undergoing dialysis treatment.

When his father passed away in April 2014, the man said he asked to return home and submitted a request for emergency leave. That was denied on the grounds that the restaurant was short-staffed, but the man said he was promised that he’d be allowed to take time off in January 2015.

He said he hasn’t left Qatar since arriving in 2012, despite being promised a free roundtrip ticket to Manila in his contract, which has since expired and not been renewed.

Even more serious problems emerged last fall when his sponsor told the man to vacate his accommodations near the Safari Hypermarket and relocate to the restaurant ahead of its sale to a new owner and closure for renovations.

The bed used by a former Roti King employee inside the restaurant, which is being renovated.
The bed used by a former Roti King employee inside the restaurant, which is being renovated.

When Doha News visited Roti King on Thursday, the man’s pillows, mattress, clothes and cooking utensils were visible around the restaurant.

Cutlery and foodstuff were stored in a small dirt-laden room inside the bathroom, while an open stove was placed in the middle of what will be the restaurant’s seating area. Upstairs, the man’s thin mattress and pillow lay on a new marble floor.

He said that he’s occasionally able to shower and do laundry at a friend’s home and that he spends his days helping with the restaurant’s renovations, assisting and cleaning up after the construction contractors.

He said two of his coworkers found themselves in similar circumstances, but that one managed to transfer his sponsorship to the restaurant’s new owner.

However, the young Filipino man said he’s not interested in signing a new contract or remaining in Qatar after learning how the country’s sponsorship laws leave employees such as him at the mercy of their employer.

“All I want to do now is go back home,” he said.

Thoughts?

91 COMMENTS

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Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

Very sad. No words. Let him please go back where he can get happiness.

Ibrahim Ali
Ibrahim Ali
6 years ago

You’re like the president of idiocy.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Troll

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Dude he’s right, you write the most stupid comments over here. At least remove your name and picture.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Kim

Another troll

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Deleting for attack.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

What is really sad is that, even if this guy is allowed to go home as soon as possible, he will most probably not be able to recover all his salaries, annual tickets, and the final settlement. What is more depressing is that his sponsor will get away with it and be allowed to bring more people to enslave.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

So true..slavery is seen as a right to citizens of Qatar, they have no shame.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Deleting for stereotyping.

Ivan
Ivan
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

If only you use your time to help combat sweatshop problem created by US company.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Ivan

Roti King is an American company? Wow, never knew that….

Ivan
Ivan
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Uhmm Nobody ever said that.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Ivan

So why the endless America bashing on a story about a Filipino being badly treated by his Qatari sponsor in Qatar. Maybe you can educate us all and show us the link between the two?

Ivan
Ivan
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Because ‘Murica? They always want to be on the spotlight. So we gave it to them. Don’t forget the nasty jews.

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Nice way to divert the topic. You protest about a labourer getting exploited in Qatar but close your eyes when the American MNC exploit them in third world countries.
Slow clap for your hypocrisy..

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  zeit

It’s not relevant to the abuse by a local company in Qatar. Exploitation by westerner, Japanese and Korean companies in third world countries is a different subject and I’m not defending it

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The exploitation happens right here in Qatar. The case of the French company that is being investigated is just an example.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  zeit

Still not relevant to this case and at least a French organisation has the guts to take a French company to court for alleged abuse. How many times do you see that in the Gulf for Arab owned companies?

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

Many to blame here.
1. The corrupt Philipino company that lied to him about his job and salary in Doha.
2. Himself for being quite for 8 months and not going to the police of the Human Rights Center.
3. The person running the company he works in for his mistreatment.

Hopefully he can return to Philippines and sue the company there for fraud.

Suhaib Jamal Nasir
6 years ago
Reply to  Nick

Please. The NHRC are absolutely helpless. I went there once to discuss getting an NOC from an un-cooperative former employer and the guy at NHRC told me “better you beg and plead with your Kafil, because if you come to us it will go to court and become an ego trip for your sponsor who will keep dragging the case for years in order to leave you in limbo so that you are taught a lesson for challenging them.”

And I have a Canadian passport and this was a large holding company.

What do you think NHRC can do for this poor guy?

We are all replaceable and disposable irrespective of the country of origin or the jobs we do. From CEO to garbage man.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago

Another way to describe the NHRC is “absolutely useless”

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Nick

and what about the company that is now prolonging his misery in Qatar. If they wanted they could solve the issue in a few days and send the guy home where he wants to go. Its a disgrace that people are using loopholes in this laws to abuse and play around with the lives of people caught in this sponsorship trap

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Yes exactly.

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  Nick

No Nick, the agencies has nothing to do with this.You know why and how? The job orders of Qatar employers (comprising the labor contract that contains salary, benefits, work period and time, etc.) are first screened by Qatar Labor Minister and the Philippine Labor Attaché in Qatar for approval before they are given permission to hire OFWs. After it is aproved, it is forwarded to Manila for manpower recruitment agencies chosen by the employer to start processing…But what happens is that most employers change the terms, salary & benefits without informing the Philippine Embassy and upon arrival of the OFW they compel the OFW employee to sign by threatening to send them back to Manila if they didn’t sign. That is why OFWs were instructed that before signing the contract upon their arrival to Qatar, OFWs should inform the Philippine labor officials rather than coming to POLO to complain after the signing and experiencing difficulties in their job site…

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago
Reply to  Nick

4. The laws of Qatar which allow such things to happen.

Estelle Fatima Abbas
Estelle Fatima Abbas
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick

I worked in Qatar before and I encountered too many scenarios that my fellow Filipinos had encountered and are encountering and about to encounter. You are right when u said that he remained quiet for months. You see when you are new to a certain place and you are a first timer abroad you are still on the stage on knowing what in store for you. There are many things that you want to do and yet you cannot do because you are afraid as to who will stand for you or in many cases you are afraid to be sent home for many reasons or are afraid to be reported to police even for a prank threat. And in most cases, it is easy for us to say like this bcoz we are not directly affected about it but when you are new abroad and u dont know whom to trust and where to go like in this kind of this situation. All u have to do is close your eyes and have faith and determination that time flies fast so that u can go home. Or by the time u have already the know how and the knowledge about what to do then you have the tendency to stand for yourself and seek for whatever best should be given to you, just like this young Filipino man.
During our kids’ field trips in the school we were able to talk to some of our Filipino brothers in that fun zone and all of them told us about how bad their situations are and how small their salaries. The salaries were not followed what was stated in their contracts which were shines while in the Philippines but when they complained to the management they were told to send home and they were given some threats. New to Qatar, they didn’t know what to do since pressures were infused to them. I was even struck to know that the Nepalese and Indian cleaners in our school were not also given the right salary and they too were not given a comfortable room to sleep. They said they are like sardines sleeping togerther to a not well ventilated room. And they told us, there are still many others who are at the same situations like them and still others are even in the most desperate and worst situations specially those who have menial jobs like them. Now, that I am in another Arab cointry the same problems become common at sense. I would always say that I am lucky indeed compared to others but guilt on being helpless at times to help your brothers who are in dire need normally occurs. Although, helping them with foods and shelter and leading them to the embassy are some of the things that we can best do in order to stretch our hands for those who are in bad situations abroad.

beerb
beerb
6 years ago

Why people choose to continue to go to this sh*thole is beyond reason.

Ibrahim Ali
Ibrahim Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  beerb

The shithole is the hole you crawled out of to get to here that includes your country and your mom.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

being rude gets you everywhere

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Exactly. You said it.
All the Qatar baiters need to get this fact right.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Thank you for fulfilling all stereotypes.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

To be fair to him he probably has had enough of people insulting his country.

local
local
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Yes MIMH, it’s the reason why I started treating expats like sh*T and with a bad attitude nowadays. This will not change.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

To be fair perhaps change the kafala system and treat all people with dignity and respect, the comment about his mother was totally out of bounds even for this forum.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Your citizenship is in the mail…

Q
Q
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Super like this post!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Shabina? Is abuse of someone’s mother acceptable?

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  beerb

Deleting this and subsequent thread for attacks.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

So Filipino embassy and government what are you doing to help this man? You take so much money off OFWs through the PEOA, POLO and various other government run business to steal for ordinary Filipinos on the premise that is something goes wrong you are there to help. Where is the new ambassador to Qatar, why is he not helping get this poor guy home? What did the previous ambassador do except enrich himself off his fellow countrymen?

Pity the poor Filipinos that can’t leave their own country without permission and paying fees both legal and in bribes to corrupt officials. Pity the poor Filipinos when something goes wrong abroad no one helps them, not even the government that has fleeced them of their money.

Why do Filipinos stand for this? Get a backbone, reform your country.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

can you shatapp? they already did everything they could “The Philippines embassy has “advised” the man’s sponsor to pay his employee his unpaid March salary, his end-of-service gratuity and “process his exit formalities.” that is only the maximum they can do.so pathetic

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

If that is the most they can do, why do they take so much money off Filipinos and restrict their freedom to leave their own country? Pathetic. Qatar mulls and the Filipino embassy asks the sponsor nicely to give him an exit permit and pay his salary. The poor guy wants to go home why don’t they contact the immigration authorities to arrange an exit permit for him.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

and perhaps the people who employ him here can play around with him like a toy not bothering to listen to the voice of reason or continue with their bad business practices

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

You have no idea how many distressed Filipino expats need help for a variety of reasons. Even private expats are chipping in to help. Get off your armchair and try to actually help someone.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Good point. MIMH can do much more than the corrupt embassy.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Yes I do, from this poor man to raped maids, to the embassy officials in the Middle East who demanded s!x from poor Filipinas before they would help them.

Seriously why do Filipinos put up with this from their own country?

Heisenberg
Heisenberg
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Because of poverty, that’s why.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Change doesn’t come easy in the most democratic and developed countries and it is even harder in other countries especially when the majority of the population are kept uneducated and poor (in some countries perhaps on purpose). Not many people are willing to face torture, imprisonment or death of themselves or their loved ones that typically will come with that sort of change.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Tell that to Ghandi or those Filipinos that overthrew Marcos. (Only to let his corrupt wife back years later and then let her enter politics!)

Filipinos pay the wages of the policitian sand corrupt government officials. How shameful must you feel to be offloaded from a plane when you have a valid passport, valid ticket and valid visa for where you want to go. Why do they let the government keep them prisoner until all bribes are paid?

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Great. I’ll tall to the Philippines Ambassador. Will ask him if they can make you the PM of Philippines?
And its Gandhi not Ghandi.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  zeit

Let’s me be PM of the Philippines, give me five years and watch the country grow. First thing I will promise is to abolish the POEA and let Filipinos decide their own fate

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

So easy to say. But your duty as President will exhaust your entire body including your brain. As a president you have to bear all the countr’s problem: Territorial dispute with China, Rebels or militant group (MILF, BFF, NPA, abusayaf, RAFM, JI, KIM, CPLA and a lot more), illegal ofws, corruptipn, Natural disasters, infrastructure, education, heavy traffic, pollution, high crime rates, drugs, poor health care, trash and too much politics, and a lot more. Okay be the president and be sure you will not be impeached after 6 months for stepping against the big businesses in the country.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Peaceatwork

Easy, I am not Filipino so not beholden to any of the vested interests. My biggest problem might be avoiding assasination for doing the right thing….

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Lol

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Typical, you only know the published stories. We don’t put up with it and fight it as much as we can. We just don’t sit around commenting on anything and don’t actually try to do something significant, which is the right thing.

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

They tried! The country’s recent history is riddled with coups, civil wars and dynastic rulers.

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

Exactly.

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Did you read the news? “The Philippines embassy has “advised” the man’s sponsor to pay his employee his unpaid March salary, his end-of-service gratuity and “process his exit formalities.”
You can find corrupt officials around the world, why you are highlighting the country’s taintedness? If you’re not a Filipino stop talking like you know a lot of the country. Filipinos learned from their mistake of expelling the late President Marcos, now it is so difficult to reform.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Peaceatwork

Well stop acting like the servants of the world, getting abused by your own country and others. At least you can reform your own country or are you telling me Filipinos are happy with the current situation?

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Who’s being abused? Some of them are so lazy, they’re relying on the government’s help, while some tried a lot to change the country’s fate and disposition.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Peaceatwork

Why can’t the embassy get the man home? That is all he wants, the salary would be nice but he is unlikely to get that. Then maybe the Embassy can file a complaint with the Qatar Authorities in such cases. We know they won’t because they are compliant in abuse of Filipinos, they are just a ‘revenue stream’ for such officals.

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Try checking the labor department you can see thousands of complaints not being solved. Last 2011, my sister filed a complain against her boss for not giving her 3 months salary, the labor staff said they will investigate. After 2 weeks she came back to follow up, nothing happened. She filed again another complaint against the shop owner / boss for not giving her salary for 6 months. The labor department still asked her to wait. Until my sister decided to leave the country but she cant just leave because her boss is holding her passport and being told the company will not provide the ticket. Noting that she’d been working there for 2 yrs & 2 months. So, I came in and requested her boss to give her passport & arrange the exit papers for her and I will provide the ticket. So kalas.. And by the way try to understand the main responsibility of the embassy. It is POLO’s main task to arrange such issues, but sadly they can’t provide promptly & cater all he needs in a single click due to a huge number of OFW’s having the same issues & currently staying in POLO. Ahmmm, Maybe you can help him. Can you?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Peaceatwork

In theory yes, make me ambassador and I’ll do my job

In practice not being Filipino no. Filipinos need to demand more from their government and its officials

Immy
Immy
6 years ago

Until when a common man suffers (expat)? Only way out of this slavery is change in kafala system, but kafala will not change at any cost. Does anybody need years to change few lines in labour law?

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

Very Sad!! 90 percent chance this poor guy will go home with only part of his service benefits. 90 % chance his sponsor will go scot free n richer ..

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Now that the name of the place is mentioned in the article, is Baladiya going to visit them soon?

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

For sure. The NHRC officers must be on their way to the restaurant as well.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

Haha. The NHRC became useless when they started its “Qatarization” process.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Qatarization must have been invented by President Bush and the Americans 🙂

FKMAC
FKMAC
6 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

I love how Qatar and Qataris bother you 🙂

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago
Reply to  FKMAC

Sandstorms, Kafala, poorly planned and executed construction and tailgating do bother me. The rest is OK

FKMAC
FKMAC
6 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

Thank God your country is always there to go back to.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago
Reply to  FKMAC

Waiting for Greece to go bankrupt, so that I can buy a small island with my hard-earned, tax-free riyals and move there 🙂

FKMAC
FKMAC
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yacine, back in your country you have to bribe the policemen to be able to walk on certain roads. : )

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Deleting this thread for getting off track.

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

They have to…☺

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Peaceatwork

Let’s hope they do it soon before he manages to clean the place and relocate the staff 🙂

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

It would be pretty easy to rectify the contract substitution problem with a centralized contract database. Why isn’t this resolved?

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Because Qatar doesn’t want it to be……

Peaceatwork
Peaceatwork
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Exactly

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

my only thought here is that criminals like the sponsor feel they can get away with this criminal behaviours!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

Doesn’t matter what level you are, as an expat you are expendable and replaceable. Qatar could solve the problem if it had the will to see workers as assets and act, but the Kafala tells you everything about Qatar’s attitude to expats, and this poor guy is just one example of the immense suffering of people who would rather not be here in the first place.

DickDePilot
DickDePilot
6 years ago

Name and shame the sponsor?

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  DickDePilot

Not a good idea around this parts, then you would be held guilty for defamation

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago
Reply to  DickDePilot

In the desert haze of oil millions in these regions humanity is in short supply

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago
Reply to  DickDePilot

Then half of private businessmen will be in trouble…

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  DickDePilot

We haven’t been able to reach him, and without getting his side of the story, are reluctant to do that.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

This is something new. We all have heard about people being moved to the deportation centres to be processed to be sent away but moving into a kitchen at a restaurant is really a disgrace and that in short says a lot about the whole sad and sorry state of this system

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Its so scandalous that even if the guy wants to go they will NOT let him go and neither can he go just like that. Some of this companies and organizations are giving a very bad name to this system by treating their workers like they have bought them just like in the old ages

Win
Win
6 years ago

Filipino government has failed to protect her citizen/citizens and Qatar for their lack of enforcement and for constantly turning a blind eye. I hope the writer below who went to NHRC to get a NOC and who was told to go back begging, made a report against the person who told him this. I know its easier said then done, but people seriously need to start making official complaints when the very person who is suppose to be a source of help comes out being a lowlife. There will be backlash for making the complaint but even without making a complaint .. one is already in a hole. What have one got to lose ?

Ahmed
Ahmed
6 years ago

I just got a job in a good company.. as per my agreement I have to give 1 month notice to my current company before leaving my current job. If this was any other country it would have been as simple as that… But, in Qatar I have to depend on the mercy of my current company to give the NOC letter… Such a shame, after all this years you have done for the company and the education you achieved, in the end winner is only Kafala System…

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