From taxi drivers to security guards: the migrant workers in Qatar who football fans might meet

It is the World Cup that’s full of superlatives. It is the most expensive and controversial , and it will be delivered perhaps by the most diverse workforce.

You will likely meet more nationalities during your stay in Qatar. This begins when you get off the plane.

Nearly everyone you will meet as you travel through Doha’s Hamad International Airport – from security guards on patrol to cleaners in the toilets, to immigration helpers – is a migrant worker. 95% of Qatar’s workforce is from abroad.

You may run into someone from Pakistan, Saeed, if you get a taxi to take you to your hotel. Make sure he’s alert.

“I feel so tired. I work 15, 16, and 18 hours per day. What should I do? He says, “We need to make money. So we have to work.”

Taxi drivers work long hours to Composite: Guardian Design/Getty Images/AFP

He makes between 100 and 300 rials per day (PS23-PS70), but this is negated by the rental fee, petrol, insurance, and the annual cost for his visa. He sends a lot of his earnings home to his wife, and his three young children. They have not seen him in almost two years. “I came here for my family. He says that if I don’t send money to them, they won’t eat.” “I miss them so very, but I’m happy that I can help them,” he said.

Saeed hopes that business will pick-up during the World Cup. It’s good news for all. He says that people are coming from many countries.

Saeed may drop you off at your hotel. You may not see John, the security guard, standing at the door. However, if you go out to explore the area 12 hours later John might still be there. These long shifts in hotels are not uncommon, especially for sub-contracted security agencies like the one he works.

John says, “In Uganda the income was not great so I decided to go to Qatar to search for the green pasture.” He has yet to find it.

John, like many low-wage workers in Qatar had to pay an agent for his job. He paid about PS1,125 for it, and he also received a 10% interest loan. As security, he used the land where his family lives to secure the loan.

“You work for the credit, the debt doesn’t go away, it is growing, remember your whole family is on the land, what if they take over the land?”

John claims he makes about 1,700 rials per month, including overtime pay. It isn’t enough if you compare the amount of work done and the amount earned. It’s hard to feel sorry for myself, but there is nothing I can do. If you want greener pastures, you must work.

Shafiq, a security guard at Doha’s most prestigious hotels, has had a very different experience. He was not paid any fees and was directly recruited from Bangladesh by the hotel. Although he works long hours, he is within the legal limit and knows it. He says, “Our hotel teaches our rights.”

He takes out his phone to show a picture of his twin boys, who were born just a few months ago. He shakes his head when asked if he was home to see them. His eyes are brimming with tears. “My mother suffered from a stroke recently so I have to stay here to make enough money for her treatment,” says he.

With thousands of people living in apartments and modified shipping containers, the demand for food delivery services is expected to rise, which should be good news for Abbas, who hails from Pakistan.

He was able to earn 60 rials per day before the World Cup. Waiting for orders was a large part of his time.

He is not employed by the company he works for. Instead, he’s hired by a “supply firm” and sent to work for the delivery company. He is often dispatched to remote areas and is the last person to receive an order.

“Supply businesses have brought many workers over to the World Cup. Abbas says there are too many riders, but not enough orders. “Two friends of mine have already returned. If I get a better job, I will only stay.

Doha’s metro system can take you to the nearest restaurant if you prefer to go out for dinner. It’s clean, efficient, and staffed with polite, eager individuals. They are proud of their job, but also a bit nervous.

“Staying sane and alive is all you can do. The Arab Cup, which was held a year ago, was chaotic with a lot noise and people falling over. Gloria, from the Philippines, says that the World Cup will be even bigger.

Gloria and thousands of volunteers like Mohan will support regular staff throughout the World Cup. They are being hired for three months to help with the World Cup and receive a modest salary. Mohan, a native Indian, is pleased with the contract and hopes to continue his employment. He says that his main goal is to find a permanent job in India, but admits that he does job hunting during the day.

“Managing the crowd will be difficult. He says he enjoys these challenges and is eager to participate in the World Cup. When asked if he enjoys football, he replies, “I like cricket but I play football.” Qatar is the only place where football can be showcased with the help , an army of cricket enthusiasts.

Thousands of construction workers have been sent home as building projects pause during the World Cup. Composite: Guardian Design/AP/Getty Images

One group of workers that you might not see is the low-wage construction laborers. They built the airport, roads and hotels you stay at. Many construction projects were put on hold by the World Cup. Thousands of workers like Baburam have been returned.

He claims that he is in worse shape than before he left Nepal for Qatar. This is because he was sent home before he could repay his recruitment debt. “The workers aren’t getting any benefits. Baburam says that they are being sent home due to the World Cup. “Our family was already in dire straits and it’s worse now. We’ve lost everything we had.



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