Delivered September 20th, 2019. Contributors: Sumit B. and
Qatar Perceptions- Eastern Media
The recent media releases by the eastern countries about Qatar includes the welcoming of new labor reforms; announcement of Qatar's exit from the OPEC; investments in Pakistan and Philippines; formation of new trade alliance with Iran and Turkey; addressing the plight of migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, and Nepal; visa facilitation to Indian workers, among others. The listed details are provided in the attached spreadsheet.
The perception of Qatar, according to Eastern media sources, is much more amenable to the country than what is seen in Western sources or other media sources. Eastern media sources tend to appear to provide richer detail about the reasons behind Qatar’s actions and provide more detail about the existence of it having other Eastern allies.
Another difference that can be seen in Qatar’s Eastern media coverage is that there is more detail about how the country reaches out to aid other countries, like Pakistan (which has its own Eastern vs. Western perception differences). The coverage related to the Philippines bilateral agreements with Qatar is another example of more positive, comprehensive coverage.
Additionally, Eastern coverage of the country portrays the Indian migrant controversy in the region with additional insights. For instance, rather than covering the topic from only the vantage point of the vulnerable migrant workers, the coverage also reports Qatar’s actions to help alleviate the situation. Even when there is criticism of Qatar’s actions in the migrant worker situation, Eastern coverage appears to focus on providing solutions, rather than simple criticisms of the country.
It should also be noted that harsher criticisms of Qatar—regarding the deaths of 1,400 Nepalis during the construction of a football stadium, for instance—are targeted, fleshed-out, and comprehensive. Another example of more thorough criticism is seen in the article focused on 300 Bangladeshi migrant workers who were stranded.
The country increased bilateral trades with Iran by 117%, followed by the diversion of flights and ships through the regions of Turkey and Oman.
Additionally, Qatar also called for replacing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with a new alliance.
In 2018, Qatar announced the implementation of new laws that allow foreign workers to leave the country without requiring an exit permit from the employer.
This move was embraced by countries with a high number of migrant workers like Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.
Additional changes include a minimum pay rate of $200 (750 riyals) and grant to leave the country without taking the employer's NOC.
Qatar became the first country to grant permanent residency visas to non-GCC member expats. The new policy enabled the relaxation of various restrictions for starting businesses in Qatar.
AID TO PAKISTAN
Qatar announced the provision of more than 100,000 jobs opportunities to Pakistani workers.
Qatar also provided aid worth $500 million to Pakistan in an agreement to invest $3 billion in the country's development.
FACILITATING VISA ACCESS
Qatar's ambassador to India announced the opening of six new visa processing centers across the country. Additionally, Qatar also announced the launch of a 30-day free visitor visa to Indians visiting Qatar.
New visa processing centers in sync with international standards
are developed in the cities of Mumbai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Islamabad, and Karachi.
A recent documentary highlighted the deaths of nearly 1,400 Nepali construction workers and annual deaths of more than 110 Nepali workers due to accident or poor living conditions. Alternatively, between January 2014 to September 2016, about 761 Indian workers died in Qatar.
An article reported the plight of 300 Bangladeshi migrant workers stranded by the employer in Qatar. The company did not pay the workers for the last six months, and workers were solely dependent on two-meals provided by a non-profit in Doha.
"A new alliance being formed by Qatar, Turkey, and Iran, with the potential to receive the backing of Russia and China, is a major concern to the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia."
"Through leaked documents, we have known for some time now that Washington’s interim goal was to, at the very least, destabilise the Assad government in the hopes of scaling back Iranian influence. (Its ultimate goal was quite clearly regime change, which was very close to fruition during at least one stage of the war)."
"After Saudi Arabia led a coalition of nations that attempted to bully Qatar into submission and accept a long list of inconceivable demands in June 2017, Qatar soon found it could rely on some key partners to weather the Saudi-led storm. These partners are now openly forming a new alliance, which will upend the entire balance of power in the Middle East."
"By the end of 2017, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan had all increased bilateral trade with Qatar, benefitting all four countries. In the less than six months since the ‘Qatar crisis’ had begun, trade between Iran and Qatar reportedly increased by 117 percent. "
"Qatar is “playing with fire” the article states. At around the same time, Qatar had called for a new alliance to replace the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), further demonstrating this shift in perspective."
"According to Russian think tank Katehon, the new Qatar-Iran-Turkey axis is already well underway and has the power to control Asia, west India and Pakistan and challenge the “demonic trio” of the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia."
"Qatar has amended its residency laws to allow most foreign workers to leave the country without exit permits from their employers, Reuters reports. Doha is keen to show it is tackling allegations of worker exploitation as it prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. "
"The new law allows most workers to leave the country without exit permits from their employers, Qatar said Tuesday in a statement quoting Minister of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs Issa al-Nuaimi."
"Employers will still be allowed to require up to five percent of their workforce to request permission to leave, after submitting their names to the government “with justifications based on the nature of the work.”"
"Talking to a delegation of Peshawar-based journalists led by Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah and Chief Editor of daily Awaz Subh, Mohammad Abid, at the Qatar Embassy in Islamabad, he said his country would provide jobs to 100,000 Pakistanis in different fields."
"Flanked by the deputy ambassador, he argued that the sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia on his country had not damaged Qatar but rather benefited the country and its people."
"Responding to a question, the ambassador said that after the imposition of sanctions, Qatar faced problems for just one month. “We overcame these problems with the support of friendly countries,” he added."
"The envoy said more than 1,200 Pakistani industrialists were playing a role in the development of Qatar. He added thatt thousands of Pakistanis were serving in the police and army in Qatar."
"He said his country has already opened visa sections in Islamabad and Karachi and decided to provide job opportunities to more than 100,000 Pakistanis."
"He said that more than 20 flights were operating from various cities of Qatar and Pakistan on a daily basis."
"The Indian Embassy in Doha, capital of Qatar, has issued a notification, warning Indian job seekers against falling prey to fake recruiting agents in Qatar. The Indian Embassy in Doha has tweeted, "Please do not trust any recruiting agent who promises you a job in Qatar on a business/visit visa." "
"Always ask for a copy of the agent`s Qatar ID and save it carefully, so that the Embassy can help you better, in the event of any fraud"
"Indians constitute around 25 percent of the total population of Qatar. As per reports, there were around 650,000 Indians in Qatar as of 2017. The total population of Qatar was around 26.5 lakhs in 2017."
"Qatar which houses 7,00,000 Indians on Wednesday opened a smooth visa facilitation centre for Indians seeking employment visa in the hydro-carbon rich Gulf state further strengthening Delhi-Doha partnership."
"Mandated by the Ministry of Interior, State of Qatar, Qatar Visa Center in Delhi was inaugurated by Mohammed Khater Al Khater, Ambassador of the State of Qatar. Indian tourists have been earlier allowed visa free entry to Qatar for 30 days."
"Six other visa centers in Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Chennai and Kolkata will be operational shortly."
"The move to get work visa applicants to complete the most essential and critical part of their visa processes in the country of origin (India in this case) is aimed at guaranteeing prospective employees their rights in a manner consistent with the best international standards."
"Official data released by the Embassy of India in Doha shows that 761 Indian workers died in Qatar between January 2014 and September 2016. However, the Qatari government continues to be non-transparent and refuses to reveal the cause of death in most of these cases."
"Exploitation and abuse of migrant workers are pervasive problems in Qatar. In 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited a worker's camp in downtown Doha, he assured them that he would raise their grievances with the Qatari government and would work with them to bring change. "
"The Indian government should actively engage with the Qatari government and insist that Qatar carry out investigations into workers' deaths and make comprehensive data publicly available."
"On the domestic front, the Indian government should ensure strict legal action against recruiting firms in India that mislead workers on wages and debt. Indian citizens should not have to pay to work. "
"A German Public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk Koln (WDR) through an investigative report in a documentary named “Trapped in Qatar” recently exposed that at least 1,400 Nepalis have lost their lives while constructing football stadiums for 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as reported by the Arab News today."
"According to the report, accidents and poor living conditions have claimed around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures. However, bereaved families of the deceased workers told WDR that they had received no compensation from Doha."
"Although Nepal and Qatar had signed a Memorandum of Understanding as well as a bilateral agreement, exploitation of Nepali migrant workers working for the construction of stadiums has continued unabated."
"The Qatari government is intent on increasing its bilateral cooperation with the Philippines as it looks into signing 10 more partnership agreements with the country."
"In its primer on the Qatar-Philippines relations, the Qatari Embassy in Manila recently listed the "agreement expected to be signed in the near future" in the fields of energy, customs law, youth, sports, combatting transnational crime, cooperation between central banks, education, human rights, military, and marine industries."
"Qatar Ambassador to the Philippines Ali Ibrahim Al-Malki said the Gulf state seeks to increase cooperation and trade exchange between the two countries under the current administration as a follow up to President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Doha last year."
"The envoy described the two nations' ties as anchored on "highest levels of common interests," especially as Qatar hosts over 300,000 Filipinos workers."
"The two nations have so far signed bilateral agreements on health, culture, air services, tourism, trade and investment, and agriculture and fisheries, among others"
"President Xi Jinping met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani here on Saturday, pledging to deepen political mutual trust and boost cooperation between the two nations."
"The two sides should accelerate the all-round cooperation in energy, trade and economy, infrastructure construction, investment, the fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications and other areas, said the Chinese president."
"On the cooperation on fighting terrorism, Xi expressed gratitude to the Qatari side for its support for China's counter-terrorism and de-extremization efforts, stressing that the Chinese side stands ready to step up coordination and cooperation with Qatar in multilateral affairs."
"The Qatari side is ready to work with China to boost cooperation in key areas including investment and energy, as well as increase cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Tamim said."
"Expatriate workers can leave Qatar without sponsors’ permission under recently reformed labour laws of the Gulf nation. Bangladeshi workers in Qatar said that they would be benefitted most from the reformed labour laws."
"Bangladesh embassy labour counselor in Doha Sirajul Islam told New Age, ‘The reformed labour laws would benefit over four lakh Bangladeshis currently working in Qatar."
"The safeguards include setting a temporary monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals ($200) and creating a committee to resolve disputes."
"State Bank of Pakistan’s chief spokesman Abid Qamar told Dawn that a deposit of $500m had been received from the gas-rich nation."
"Qatar is the fourth country which offered a support package to Pakistan making the combined bilateral loans from all these friendly countries during the current fiscal year to more than $12.7bn before Pakistan formally enters an International Monetary Fund programme for $6bn financing next month."
"So far, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates have extended about $9.7bn in loans and cash deposits to Islamabad since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power in August last year."
"Gas production remains the top the priority for Qatar, which is the world's the biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas"
"Qatar has been a member of OPEC since 1961, and the decision to pull out after all these decades comes at a turbulent time in Gulf politics, with Doha under a boycott by former neighboring allies including Saudi Arabia for 18 months."
"Qatar's still-influential former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani subsequently tweeted that OPEC was of "little use" and being "used only for aims that undermine our national interest"."
"Qatar will continue to produce oil and seek deals in countries including Latin America's top oil producer Brazil, said Kaabi."
"In September, Qatar announced it plans to boost gas production to 110 million tons per year by 2024."