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Qatar's hiring of Bangladeshis softens as crisis lingers

Recruitment drops 31pc in 10 months to October

| Updated: November 06, 2017 09:57:02

Qatar's hiring of Bangladeshis softens as crisis lingers

The outflow of Bangladeshi workers to Qatar has fallen sharply in recent months in the aftermath of unrest exacerbated by sanction on it by Saudi Arabia and allies.

Sector-insiders said although the situation was improving gradually in Qatar, the development work slowed down. Even running projects are also getting slower than expected, they added.

This situation has left a negative impact on Bangladesh, with the country's overseas employment to Qatar sliding by about 31 per cent in the last 10 months of 2017, according to statistics available with the state-run Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).

In the January-October period, the energy-rich Gulf country hired some 70,440 workers from Bangladesh, fewer than 102,073 in the same period of 2016.

Being a host country for the World Cup Football-2022, Qatar has recruited a significant number of workers from Bangladesh in the last three years.

The country recruited an average 10,000 in each of the six months to June this year.

But that number halved to 5,000 a month, the BMET figures showed.

Several countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June last. They also imposed different sanctions, which affected the economy of the Gulf country.

Besides, the workers are not getting benefits like those of past. They are not getting overtime facility. Due to inflation, workers are forced to spend a significant portion of their wages to meet their daily necessities, according to insiders familiar with the situation.

But the official version is contrary. The officials said the situation was gradually improving and they were getting job demand from Qatari employers.

Talking to the FE over phone, Sirajul Islam, labour counsellor of Bangladesh Embassy in Qatar, said that the overall condition of the Arab country is better now than in the past.

In summer season, the construction work usually remains, but it will gain momentum in winter. Besides, many projects taken up for the World Cup were at the last stage of implementation, which has brought down the demand for new recruitment.

Mr Islam, however, said that currently, Qatar is focusing on hiring skilled workers. So, Bangladesh should prefer sending skilled manpower to the Gulf country. "Nearly 85 per cent of the total Bangladeshi workers are engaged in the construction sector in Qatar," he added.

Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, joint secretary-general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), sees other reasons than political instability for the drop-off in the outflow of workers to Qatar.

Bangladeshi workers prefer to go to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia and he said this preference is one reason why the employment to Qatar had sharply fallen.

"After opening up of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market, the dependency on the Qatar market will decrease further," Mr Noman said.

Some 669,666 Bangladeshi workers went to Qatar since 1976. Of the total, around 400,000 are working there. They sent home remittances worth US$ 515.23 million in 2016.

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