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Qatar: Domestic Laws issued in Relation to the 2022 World Cup – Part I

The following is a guest post by, Ali Ebshara, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

The State of Qatar is scheduled to host the World Cup for Soccer in November 2022. The Qatari government adopted an array of domestic legislation in relation to the organization of this global sport event. In this two-part blog, I will discuss legal issues addressed by this domestic legislation. Those issues are:

  • Rights of foreign workers working in Qatar in the tourism and construction sectors before and during the tournament;
  • Behavior of foreign nationals visiting the country during the World Cup;
  • The entry and exit of fans interested in attending the tournament;
  • Financial transactions carried out by fans and organizers;
  • The rights of broadcasting games;
  • Intellectual property rights of FIFA; and
  • The establishment of a security commission supervising the security of the world cup tournament.

Part I of this blog post will address the first of these issues, the rights of foreign workers working in Qatar in the tourism and construction sectors before and during the tournament.

Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha, Qatar, under constuction ahead of the World Cup 2022.

Al Wakrah Stadium – Doha Qatar. Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer (Jan. 3, 2019). Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Laws on the Rights of Foreign Workers

Qatar has announced that it is in the process of recruiting 12,000 foreign workers to work in the field of tourism and hospitality in order to meet the needs of fans visiting Qatar during the 2022 Soccer World Cup. The foreign workers will be hired on a temporary basis. Over the past 10 years, Qatar has recruited foreign workers to construct new airports, roads, and public transport systems in preparation for the event. According to a report issued in June 2020 by the Planning and Statistic Authority of the State of Qatar, there are almost two million foreign nationals working in Qatar. (Report at 10). Seventy-nine percent of them work as craftsmen and machinery operators and have an educational level below secondary school. (Id. at 16.)

In 2017, Qatar partnered with the International Labor Organization to protect the rights of foreign workers recruited to work in the country. Qatar aimed at bringing its labor environment up to standards and has passed a number of laws geared toward creating a better labor environment in the country. Those laws include the following measures.

Withholding Travel Documents

Section 8 of Law No. 21 of 2015 limits the withholding of passports and travel documents, a common practice under the Kafala system that allowed sponsors or employers to have control over migrant workers. Workers would not be permitted to leave the country or go through any process that would require their travel documents without obtaining them from their sponsor first.

Migrant Worker Rights

Law No. 15 of 2017 adds a number of migrant worker rights in conformity with international law standards. The Law limits the number of hours migrant workers are required to work each day and requires time off. The maximum hours of work shall not exceed ten hours a day. (Law No. 15 of 2017, art. 12)

Article 6 of the same law adds a mandatory paid probation period. Article 7 requires that the employer provides basic daily necessities for workers to do their work appropriately, does not put the employee in harm’s way, and does not force the employee to come to work during their time off or sick leave. Likewise, article 13 of Law No. 15 of 2017 adds a mandatory paid day off once a week. Finally, article 14 requires the employer to grant the worker three weeks of paid time off for every year of employment.

The Removal of the Exit Permit

Law No. 13 of 2018 removes the requirement of an exit permit from the sponsor or employer in order for the foreign worker to leave the country. Previously, a foreign worker would not be permitted to leave the country temporarily or permanently without permission from their sponsor or employer. This law does not include workers outside of the 2017 labor law, such as military personnel, those working in the public sector, or domestic workers.

Increasing the Minimum Wage

Law No. 17 of  2020 enforces a minimum wage requirement, which is reviewed and determined by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor, and Social Affairs. The amount is currently set at 1000 QR ($274.65) per month with an additional 500 QR ($137.32) if housing had not been provided by the employer, and 300 QR ($82.39) if food is not provided by the employer.

Removal of the No Objection Certificate

Law No. 19 of 2020 amends articles 21 – 23 of Law No. 21 of 2015, removing the no-objection certificate. Previous to this amendment, an employer would have to provide the foreign worker with a certificate stating that there is no objection to the foreign worker being hired by a different employer. This amendment removes such requirements and allows foreign workers more flexibility in switching positions.

Tomorrow, I will present more Qatari laws that have been enacted as a result of the World Cup.

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