DOHA, Qatar – They are called “men in the blue jumpsuits.” They are guest workers from India, Nepal, the Philippines, and other South and Southeast Asian countries who make up more than 90% of Qatar’s population.
Qatar is heavily dependent on a migrant work force for the brawn and sweat equity needed to complete their massive construction projects in time for its hosting of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Every day the men in the blue jumpsuits are ferried by buses called tata to these construction sites and then back to labor camps located far away from the city center.
Qatar’s labor practices, oftentimes marked by delayed or unpaid wages, dangerous working conditions, and sub-standard living accommodations have long been under scrutiny.
The country has initiated labor reforms to improve its working conditions but labor rights groups say that unless the oppressive kafala sponsorship system is abolished, migrant workers will always be vulnerable to abuse.