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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Videos aim to increase empathy for low-income workers in Qatar, GCC

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Him Bahadur
Him Bahadur

In an effort to foster understanding and empathy for the millions of expats working in low-paid jobs across the Gulf, residents of Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have recently produced short videos that allow viewers to go for a walk in their shoes.

So far, a video published last month in Bahrain has appeared to generate the most buzz, and garnered more than half a million views on Youtube.

The two-and-a-half minute clip is about a local man who switched places with an Asian grocery store clerk to see what would happen when he tried to take people’s orders from their cars.

Explaining his intentions, Yousif Hassan said he wanted to illustrate the divide between his life and that of migrant workers, by spending a day doing one of their jobs.

As he tries to take people’s requests while dressed in national garb, many motorists quickly change their tones, becoming more polite. Others express confusion, asking “Are you seriously working here?”

And some, apparently ashamed that Hassan was trying to serve them, declined to give their orders entirely.

In a voiceover, the 18-year-old Bahrain questions what the days of workers who have trouble speaking the language must be like.

“We are all human beings that have the right to be respected regardless of our work, nationality and our social state,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a Facebook campaign is being run by the national Human Rights Commission to encourage people to be kinder to domestic workers who leave their families behind.

The video shows a woman saying goodbye to her family in Southeast Asia as her daughter screams and cries. Since it was published in December, it has garnered nearly 600,000 views and continues to be passed around online.

Excessive honking

In a new video published yesterday, Northwestern University in Qatar journalism student J. Zach Hollo revisits Him Bahadur, a 29-year-old waiter who works for House of Tea, a South Asian restaurant on Doha’s Al Shafi Street.

Bahadur, a prolific song- and story-writer by night, explains on camera that he gets frustrated while on the job, especially during peak hours.

“I get angry when customers see that we’re busy but keep honking their horns,” he explained.

Though the Ministry of Interior has asked residents not to use their horns as a way of attracting the attention of a shop’s employees, it remains a common practice in Qatar that has been parodied by the satirical publication The Pan-Arabia Enquirer.

Speaking to Doha News, Hollo said he made the video to draw attention to the practice, which angered him because people seemed to think parking and being served was “the natural order of things.”

“I thought, I wonder if the waiters are also mad at this set-up? It ended up that they don’t get mad at the honking itself, but only when the honking goes overboard and people get impatient, because they feel they are working so hard and wish people would understand that they’re busy and trying their best.

So I wanted to show that, I guess to humanize the people who are always serving others, but who are seldom spoken to. Everyone seems to get food from them, but no one ever gets to know them.”

Despite the stress, Bahadur, who is working here to support his family in Nepal, maintained an upbeat attitude. “We come from different countries, but we’re like a family. We fight but then we patch up.”

‘Invisible’

Some residents here have previously worried that low-income expats and domestic workers appear “invisible” to others, despite numbering some 700,000 individuals, or roughly a third of the country’s population.

Their long working hours, combined with restrictions on their movement, mean many are rarely seen moving about the city for leisure.

Laban tap
Laban tap

However, that hasn’t stopped some local residents from reaching out to some of the people working in Qatar’s service and construction industries.

For example, to mark International Workers Day last year, several residents visited expats in their workplaces to film a cover of Pharrel Williams’ song Happy as a tribute to the country’s blue-collars workforce.

Others have attempted to build bridges through their own individual acts of kindness, such as stocking outdoor fridges with complimentary cold drinks and offering free homemade laban to the community.

Thoughts?

69 COMMENTS

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Turkish
Turkish
6 years ago

i am belive Allah!!! İ am Muslim . How can we are hurt people…? HOW ? What we said ALLAH Hesap Asirrr… maybe i am wroung to said that. Some my muslim brother collecti comments. Thank you Doha news well done againg…

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Turkish

Muslims are incapable of hurting other muslims. It’s jews in disguise that do this.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Sarcasm?

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

Lol! And ISIS is really Mossad… :-p

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago

Spot on! However, how do a Muslim recognizes the other person as a true Muslim, is the question!

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

We check their ancestry to determine whether they’re true Scotsman and attempt to burn them at the stake. If they live, they’re Muslim, if they die, well, they might still be msulim but they were weak and can’t live in Doha anyways.

Sprinkles
Sprinkles
6 years ago

That made me chuckle lol

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago

Fair enough! Trial by Doha > Trial by fire!

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

He checks his foresk…..

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I don’t think that’d work for the above scenario! Oh the comment has been deleted!

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

We check it but mostly for amusment

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago

Not sure which one is darker, your humour or a supermassive black hole.

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

Only Wesley Snipes is darker.

Turkish
Turkish
6 years ago

Of course but big story. i just looking to Europe nothing happing But Middle east i am crying…. We are still sleeping… Wake up Muslim this my slogan

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Turkish

#Illuminatiisreal

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago

Deleting – know you’re probably joking, but still!

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Good on that Bahraini man, Youssif Hassan…..kudos for that.

all seeing
all seeing
6 years ago

It’s common in Qatar. People need to have right education.

Moola
Moola
6 years ago

And that is how Indians lost their 5 Riyals tip per trip to the car.

facty
facty
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

not all labourers are indians. The one shown in the video is a nepali. So clubbing all of them under one nationality wouldnt be an appropriate way to address them.

Moola
Moola
6 years ago
Reply to  facty

Yes I agree with you, it’s wrong to assume that of them are Indians, but on this blog it’s okay to assume that all bad drivers are Qataris.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

Not true Moola……Nasser Al Attiyah is the good Qatari driver……..!

Moola
Moola
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

One in 300,000. Still every other Qatari is a bad driver according to expats in Qatar. Anyone who thinks otherwise please come forward.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

And EVERY expat believes EVERY Qatari is a bad driver *isn’t* a brainless generalization?

Moola
Moola
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

so it’s fair for some but not for others?

Romeo.S
Romeo.S
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

Guys, all drivers in Qatar are bad. Qataris Indians everyone!…
except me 😀

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

How about we just assume its the Indian people’s fault that Qataris are bad drivers since the first driving instructors at the driving school might have been Indians? The rest of them got their license with wasta, I am being sarcastic but it could be true as I have never seen a Qatari guy in a driving school car.

Moola
Moola
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

All Qataris got their license with wasta, until you see a Qatari in a driving school car.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

Already mentioned that.

chutiye
chutiye
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeow! Sarcasm flew right over your head,

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Moola

Deleting for stereotyping, as well as subsequent irrelevant thread.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  facty

Indians started this tradition way before you came to Qatar, I just don’t get how did Indians accepted to be treated this way right after India got freedom and all the teachings of Gandhi to stand up against whats wrong. It’s not the Nepali’s fault, they just got Nepalis because Indians cost them 100 riyals more.

FalconFlyer
FalconFlyer
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

Its not a tradition, its a service requirement specific to GCC, my guess due to the searing heat here. Indians ‘who work as such’ are not to blame, but in fact the lazy patrons.
Generalizing is the easiest outcome of an irrational mind.
Have you ever experienced what these low wage workers do, on a daily basis. If not, please don’t belittle them.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

Nothing gets on my nerve more than the honking and blocking of traffic for a karak… But I’m sorry to tell you this wasn’t created here it came from India. I’ve been to Kerala, Mumbai and Goa and it’s very common there and in Karachi too. The only difference is instead of honking the horn the drivers there rev up their motorbikes or rickshaws .. Not sure I spelled it right… To get the shop keepers attention… And tea shops usually will come out with a tray of a dozen or so cups and moves around the different ppl standing outside or on motorbikes where they pick up the cup and drop the money in the tea..

I still think it’s wrong to honk the horn… But a lot of these shops actually cater for such behavior … Go to any tea time shop .. Try it… Try ordering from inside the shop… They’ll ask you to go to your car and they bring the order cause they don’t want you crowding the small space and blocking the half dozen men running up and down the shop

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I don’t think it matters where it came from. What matters is to educate these numbskulls so that they realize that roads are for driving, carparks are for parking, legs are for walking and horns are for emergencies.

The traffic chaos that these karak shops cause is just woeful, and no one will do anything about it because quite often you see the traffic cops in their Landcruisers sitting in the melee having their tea too.

Even at Katara, which tried so hard to be nice and civilized, now has to cope with that wretched karak shop next to the cupcake shop, and all the traffic mayhem it causes.

FalconFlyer
FalconFlyer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

You are right, its common in India but the situation is changing for the better. You cannot park your car just outside the tea shop and order your stuff, no more. You have to find the parking closest to it, order and enjoy, unless you want your car towed for a cuppa. At least that is what is happening in the urban cities. Doha has to follow what is the right thing to do, not what used to happen years ago, somewhere.
In Doha, I personally get to the tea shop, order and enjoy my karak. No one has told me to go to the car and honk.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

The hilarious part is that if you park a small distance away and then walk into the shop, you almost always will get served well ahead of the people sitting and honking in their cars out on the street.

A few times I’ve noticed how enraged the customers sitting in the Lexus LX470 get when they see the white guy (me) walk past them, through the door, and order and receive their karak straight away. It brings a grin to my face.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

As a matter of fact I have and it was the first job I got after I completed my high school. 16 hours in heat during June… so there Mr. Judgement.
Weather you accept it or not, it is a tradition. Offering a service is one thing, accepting a s**tty salary for it is another.

FalconFlyer
FalconFlyer
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

I did not understand your comment. You worked as a tea boy after completion of school? Did you get a shi**y salary or you did it gratis.
I still believe it as a service, Tradition is local behavior or customs of the inhabitants. Guess what? Once all these guys are sent back, this nonsense is gonna stop. The reaction will be as shown on the video. Respect is not dependent on your nativity, it is a virtue you are born with OR you cultivate.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

Not as a tea boy to be precise but had to work on an oil rig as a laborer, its actually worse than a tea boy and yes I did get a shi**y salary.

Exactly my point! it is a tradition to accept low salaries that started off from India since they have a mass production of human resources who’d lower their standards so much that they would accept a horrible salary and travel to another country without doing research on cost of living, so when a person who spends thousands of dollars getting a degree in IT gets offered a salary of 2000 riyals and the employers tell you “If I can get an Indian for 2000 Riyals, why would I pay you 10 or 15000 riyals to do the same job?” it does kind of screws up the whole system (thanks to Indian Tradition). Respect is dependent on your nativity, specially in GCC. So please save us the Gandhi talk and be realistic!

FalconFlyer
FalconFlyer
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

What stops you from breaking that tradition, if you may insist calling it so. Be the change, Mister.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

It’s very easy to point fingers others and judge them when you don’t know anything about them, right? I always stood for the right and I do that by paying my employees with a respectable salary rather than enslaving them and ensuring that they had roof and food before I thought about myself, that is my part and my responsibility. I don’t think I need to justify myself or my actions to you nor do I need to brag about what I do. But sometimes people need a little smack on the back of their head to bring them back to their senses.
If you think you can do half as much as I did, then make that change instead of running your judgmental mouth.

Dieter
Dieter
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

So realistically, its their fault for accepting low pay in the first place? Is that really what you are saying?
So if they stood up en masse, accepted that they are at fault, and said “We’re sick and tired and we’re not going to take this anymore”. What would happen? They could stand up and remedy their situation? To say its their fault, when they are absolutely powerless to change it is ludicrous.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Dieter

What happens when people do a strike, protest or riots? I don’t think any of the companies here can afford to have people on strike, 1 because of their image, 2 because the whole world will find out how the bad is the pay over here and 3 because it will delay their work. You might be new here, but those who have been here for a long time they know how every 2 years or so there is a ban on a nationality from 3rd world country. Last year the government of Philippine proposed a raise of salary to 300 dollars and there was a crisis and so they started recruiting people from African countries at the labor level. It started from Indians and Pakistanis, then Egyptians, then Syrians, then Filipinos, then Sri Lankans, then Nepalis and now Africans and Eastern Europeans for the next 2 to 5 years. It is the fault of both, if there is an oppressor you can’t just blame him because the person who is getting oppressed accepted to be oppressed and no one dares to speak against the system because they fear money so much that they don’t even realize the power of unity and how it can mess up the whole system built on greed. So yes it is the fault of these people. There has been many Prophets and Role models in every culture that people learn from not to be oppressed but still they chose to because they are paralyzed by the disease of money that they allow to sell themselves at the price of peanuts.

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
6 years ago

When I read stories of ‘bachelors’ not being allowed into malls, low income labourers not being allowed to live in certain areas, and living in squalor in ghetto like conditions, I think of the German term ‘untermensch’ and it creates disturbing parallels. That’s probably why I was so moved to see how people like Yousif Hassan are using their skills to raise awareness about how we can learn to treat people with respect and dignity.

expat viewer
expat viewer
6 years ago

my highest respect to Mr.Yousif Hassan for showing in action the true meaning of care, mutual respect and understanding to other people regardless of race, religion or social state in life.. i hope other people will also emulate that he had been doing.. 🙂

Ali
Ali
6 years ago

When you mentioned Qatar, for a second I thought a Qatari guy actually made an effort to walk in the shoes of this person and not someone who came to Qatar to make money. I am not sure if the guy’s intentions were to get more likes as it seems to be trending first Bahrain then the rap song in Saudia Arabia and hence he made a video with circus music or if he was genuinely.
Anyhow the video is made and the message is out,
Now what? Will this stop? No…
Will they be given more respect? Unfortunately Not…
Will these “Low-Income” people make more than 800 riyals? No…
Then what’s the point?

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

Notice that both in Bahrain and Qatar the people who made the videos are students – not trying to make money, but to raise awareness.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

Raise awareness of what – the suffering of the low-paid expats? It’s very hard to imagine a nation that invented the Kafala and some of the he most punitive labour laws on the planet wasn’t aware of what they were doing when they introduced them, and haven’t since become aware of the suffering they have caused by the reports produced by Amnesty, Human Watch and just about every free-thinking press in the world. This is not a lack of awareness – this is a culture.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

I’ve had conversations with various people lately, and they have all told me to my face that all the labor problems have now been “fixed” by the Emir. That was news to me.

Kingdomishere
Kingdomishere
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Michael?!! Where were u when Doha News published this??!!!

“….when asked by Amanpour about the exit permit system that requires expats to seek their employers’ permission before leaving the country, Al Thani said “we changed those laws” and also said “there are many laws that have been changed” and that the situation for laborers in
Qatar has already improved.”

https://dohanews.co/tv-interview-qatar-emir-says-poor-labor-conditions-acceptable

Just like Qatar Airways CEO recently denied malpractices with regards to cabin crew terming
the accusations as BS……the culture in the gulf can be quite unbelievable, inspite of glaring facts just deny, deny, deny and carry on not batting an eye…..problem solved!!!!

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Kingdomishere

Videos like this are attempting to challenge the notion that because someone is from a different cultural/ethnic/racial background, it’s okay to treat them in a disrespectful way.

But how can you ‘raise awareness’ of issues, when the people who are best placed to actually fix the problems, genuinely believe in their heart of hearts that there are no problems?

Kingdomishere
Kingdomishere
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Michael? “..genuinely believe in their heart of hearts there are no problems…”??!! I doubt as the same people are best placed to have the right information besides the fact that it is thier business to have the right information!!! I find it being more of callousness, but the world being a global village you just “do something” to make it look like you are doing something, that way you get to save face with your peers around the world.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

In that case bravo to them. Odd but great.

MrJames
MrJames
6 years ago

What a guy. I’m so impressed by that Bahraini bloke. I wanna meet that geezer and buy him a beer (or maybe some Karak).

Great story, Doha News. More like this, please

Izmarhad2dash
Izmarhad2dash
6 years ago

The video by Yousif Hassan is more about sympathy then empathy and I’m in no rush to celebrate that. I think while his intentions are noble he fails to challenge any misconceptions by actually giving the shop keeper a voice, he’s simply a “poor hindi” (incorrectly translated in the subtitles as a “poor worker”).

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Izmarhad2dash

I thought he was trying to emphasize the exact same point that you are making, although I may have misinterpreted it.

Yousef
Yousef
6 years ago

Speaks volumes for the IGNORANCE of the local people…and the lack of good MANNERS

SHAME on them that use the horn to get attention.

Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Abdulrahman Al-Thani
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef
Turkish
Turkish
6 years ago

Good examples…

brorick
brorick
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

This comment speaks volumes of the IGNORANCE of you…and the lack of good MANNERS.

Im not local btw…but your comment is just racist…also, its not just locals its everyone…even the video shows it that its people from all over the world who do it.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  brorick

There ought to be a new word invented – “culturist” to mean the dislike of a culture.. Many cultures are common to different races and countries, and really the rage here is against the culture that thinks its ok to treat people like slaves, not against one particular race or country that practices it. .

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

I’ve seen others do apart from just locals so a bit harsh to blame only them

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

Deleting for stereotyping.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

One thing is missing from this debate. They are called low income workers in the gulf but back home if they even had a job their income would be much lower. It only becomes an issue here because of the disparity in wealth between different nationals even though the ‘low income’ workers are better off here.

India also has a huge disparity in incomes between the rich and the poor but you here very little about how badly domestic staff or labourers are treated their. I guess they are being abused and mistreated by their own people so I guess that is ok. Even the Indian ambassadors wife to the US abused her own indian donmestic staff and they are supposed to help their fellow Indians.

Will
Will
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Yeah you’re right, how dare they expect us to treat them like Human beings when they get paid more than they do back home, and when there are equally ignorant and lazy people to abuse them in their own country.

I mean, they’re getting paid to get abused! What do they expect? And two wrongs definitely make a right; everyone knows that!

Their attitude disgusts me, it’s frankly a disgrace!

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
6 years ago

Nobody would take seriously a grocery store clerk dressed in “national garb”. If that dude really wanted to experience what it’s like he should have also worn the Nepalese guy’s clothes for a day.

Catalea
Catalea
6 years ago

Low income workers or not, no one should be treated like crap. At the end of the day, we are all humans, regardless of our origin, income or the kind of job we do. How is it that respect to one another is based on what we do for a living ? It’s sad to think that campaigns had to be made for people to be aware that some of the expats leave their family back home, be it the Nepalese, American or Syrian, and that it is not easy for them.
On another note, I do hope that these video end up being successful, and that things will change. Better late than never right ?

Omar Al-Ansari
Omar Al-Ansari
6 years ago

The Bahraini man in the video isn’t Yousif Hassan but Khalid Al Marzouqi.

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