Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have acquiesced to requests from the Philippines government to pay domestic workers a minimum monthly salary of QR1460, or $400, media reports state.
In principal, maids in Qatar are supposed to be paid at least that much, a representative at the Philippines embassy told Doha News today.
But manpower agencies have said that Qatar’s 40,000+ Filipina domestic workers actually receive an average of QR900, or $247, monthly.
Earlier this week, the Philippine Association of Manpower Agencies for the UAE met recruiters in the country’s capital as part of a “goodwill mission” in several GCC countries, including the UAE and Qatar, the National reports.
That discussion appears to have yielded promises from the UAE and Saudi Arabia to adhere to reforms requested by the Philippines government, which last year nearly banned its citizens from domestic labor in the GCC due to concerns over workers’ safety.
The agreement smoothes relations with KSA, which had stopped issuing work permits for domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines after the nations issued new hiring guidelines last year.
The Philippines embassy in Doha did not say whether any agreements had been made this week in Qatar.
Regardless, the country has expressed plans to move away from a reliance on Filipino labor by tapping manpower agencies to bring in workers from several other impoverished countries, including Bosnia, Cambodia, Morocco and Sudan.
Meanwhile, a draft law establishing maids’ rights in Qatar, introduced by local media more than a year ago, has yet to become a reality.
Credit: Photo by Phil Gradwell
As Qatar’s population and construction projects multiply, so does the amount of garbage the country generates.
But waste is a relative term, and officials at the UNESCO office in Doha are working to ensure one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure.
Government figures indicate that we generate a lot of junk - 20,000 tons of waste are produced daily by the construction industry alone, and in 2010, for example, some 3.5 million tons of waste were dumped in Umm Al-Afai’s landfill. UNESCO contextualizes that amount like this: If everyone had lined up to deposit their garbage on the same day, the queue would stretch from Doha to Islamabad.
In a Gulf Times op-ed, representatives Mark Sutcliffe & Dr Benno Böer continue:
Waste is defined as being unwanted, and more importantly for this article, useless. Waste is therefore an ironic term to use, because nearly everything being thrown away is invariably wanted by someone under the right conditions, and is most definitely not useless. Imagine if you will, throwing away half of your weekly shopping before you even finished using it. You would quickly come to the conclusion that you should buy half as much, and make better use of what you are buying.
The concept is no stranger to Qatar… The environment is our only life support system. With every piece of litter, we diminish the quality of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
Still, recycling in Qatar remains difficult. Educational initiatives fall flat partly because bins that make sorting paper, plastic and other refuse easy are few and far between.
To tackle the problem of waste, UNESCO Doha has launched the Arab Recycling Initiative, a website that features a “waste exchange” section listing information about groups who seek - and sometimes pay for - “waste.”
Organizers say the list is far from complete, and invite contributions from volunteers.
Because “we cannot hide the waste we generate, only for our children to find it later.”
Credit: Photo by Erick Espinosa
I feel ashamed.
A person claiming to be a member of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family, in response to a question from a Reddit user about Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers.
The reported Al Thani recently invited Reddit users to pepper him with questions and then spent 15 hours answering them.
The person, who says he is 23 years old and employed, answers questions under the handle queen_priscilla, and employs a mix of humor and honesty that appear to win over many a Redditter.
Here are some of his answers:
Why is your family sabotaging Syria?
Cause they didn’t invite us to their christmas party.
Whats the most ridiculous thing you have ever bought/been gifted? Just because?
Oh, this is shameful. Okay, don’t judge me because this happened a while back.
My parents were away and there was a new Escalade parked at the house, I asked around and no one knew who it belonged too. There was plastic still in it.
I ended up taking it for a joy ride. Nothing more than 20 mins, brought it back good as new.
Later, upon her return, my mother asked why the car smelled like tobacco, I used to smoke then and lit one up in the car, thinking nothing of it.
She hates the smell of tobacco. So she just told me to have the car.
I still feel bad.
What is your opinion of the role that women should play in your country?
Whatever role they want.
They drive here you know, more women than men go to university here. They work and some own their own business. Some choose to be housewives. Personally, I’m really proud that they have opportunities.
I don’t think men and women share equal opportunity though anywhere in the world and that’s a shame.
What are people’s reactions when they learn you’re a royal?
Depends on the person. Usually they’ll get real chummy and conveniently lose their wallets.
Also, “IM IN TROUBLE WITH THE POLICE CAN YOU HELP?” calls.
How do you feel about the widespread human rights abuses and mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar and the other Gulf States?
I feel ashamed.
But I also think the situation is misunderstood and I think it’s worse than people think.
I know they government is trying to change that shit but it’s not going to happen over-night, maybe by next year though.
But ya, those people are poorer than you think. They actually pay to get jobs here. The situation is that bad in some of their countries and I’ve heard reports that they have to bribe to even have their applications sent or something. It’s a problem that’s widespread and not only in the Gulf and I don’t mean that as a cop-out.
I’m pretty friendly with our maids and they would tell me stories about sh** from their countries. Really heartbreaking stuff.
Read the whole thread here.
UPDATE: Some doubt has been cast on this report. Several Qataris have rightly pointed out that the requisite blood tests all couples who marry here must undergo before getting married here take longer than two days to sort out. Thoughts?
In an unlikely turn of events, a car accident in Qatar has resulted in a marriage of two young Arabs, Al Sharq reports.
According to the newspaper, a young Arab man was recently driving on Februrary 22nd Road when his SUV was struck from behind by a female Arab driver.
Both were talking on their mobile phones.
The two began a “heated exchange” with neither of them admitting fault in the accident, Al Sharq reports. But when they reached the traffic department to file complaints, the man took responsibility for the incident.
The Peninsula translates:
The duo came out together and the woman thanked the man profusely for his change of heart. They exchanged mobile phone numbers and the man called her the next morning and proposed. The woman accepted the proposal after her family agreed.
They decided to tie the knot the next day in a simple ceremony…
“I was impressed by the admission of his mistake and could not refuse when he called me the next day to propose,” (the woman said).
Congratulations! All’s well that ends well?
Credit: Photo by Michael J
*This article has been corrected to reflect Al Sharq’s report that two Arab nationals were wed after meeting in a car accident. It previously stated the couple was Qatari, as translated incorrectly by the Peninsula.
In the first document pertaining to Qatar - a telegram apparently sent to the Syrian ambassador here on Feb. 18 - Head of Special Security Forces Major General Dhu al-Himma Shaleesh asserts a need to “embarrass” Qatar for its support of the rebels, and ask the envoy for ideas, Al Arabiya reports.
Shaleesh also authors the second document, dated June 2, in which he personally addresses President Al Assad and acknowledges the “success” of operation “Villaggio blaze.”
The claim remains dubious as no specific plans were laid out in the first memo and no details are offered in the second. It also remains unclear whether there was even a Syrian ambassador in Qatar on Feb. 18, as the GCC announced on Feb. 7 that all Gulf states were expelling Syrian ambassadors.
Al Arabiya says these two files are part of a large cache of government documents it obtained “with the assistance of members in the Syrian opposition; which has preferred not to elaborate on how they got hold of them.” The channel says, however, that it has verified hundreds of those files.
The Qatari government has yet to comment on the newly released documents, but it was quick to discount earlier rumors of Syrian involvement shortly after the May 28 fire that killed 19 people, including 13 children.
And an official investigation into the fire concluded it was started by faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light, which led to the ignition of its plastics components before spreading to flammable materials.
Here are the two Arabic documents Al Arabiya is presenting:
Credit: Graphic and documents courtesy of Al Arabiya
The iPhone 5 is not yet officially on sale in Qatar, but some residents have managed to track them down in shops on Nasser St. and other stores following last week’s limited release in North America, Asia and Europe.
Carrefour told Doha News that they don’t have the phone in stock, but Lulu appears to be selling them.
The Peninsula reports:
An official from Lulu Hypermarket said that they sold over 70 sets of iPhone 5 in less than five hours yesterday.
“Even if we get a thousand sets of iPhone 5, we can sell them quickly,” the official said.
Purchasing the phone in Qatar right now will cost you anywhere from QR4,400 ($1205) to QR5,500 ($1,507), the newspaper adds.
That’s a steep markup from the QR2551 ($699) Apple is charging for the unlocked iPhone 5 on its website (though it won’t be available for another 3 to 4 weeks).
Prices are expected to stabilize, however, once Vodafone - the official reseller of Apple products in Qatar - releases the phones into the market. The company told Doha News it will announce the launch date on Twitter, but couldn’t specify when.
Who’s planning to get one?
Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple’s Facebook fan page
The countdown for the much-awaited IKEA store in Qatar is on!
Al Futtaim Group, which is developing Doha Festival City, told Doha News that the opening of the Swedish warehouse is slightly behind schedule, and is expected to open at the beginning of 2013, instead of the end of this year.
For those who are waiting and wondering, DFC has put this handy gadget up on its website, which says there are 96 days to go.
That puts launch during the first week of January 2013.
JUNKYARD... the next possible location for my next photoshoot