Just The Facts

Qatar: A Close-up

Are the wealthy few in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar exploiting poor foreign workers?

Source: Wikimedia

Emblem of Qatar. Source: Wikimedia


  • The foreign worker population in Qatar is nearly five times the size of the ruling Qatari population.
  • About 1.2 million foreign workers make up 94% of the labor force in tiny Qatar.
  • Qatar has twice the gross national income (adjusted for purchasing power) of the United States.

1. Qatar is an absolute monarchy in the Persian Gulf. Geographically, it is about the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut.

2. About 1.2 million foreign workers – mostly poor Asians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines — make up 94% of the labor force in Qatar.

3. Qatar’s 250,000 citizens are among the world’s richest, with a gross national income (adjusted for relative purchasing power) of $87,478 in 2012.

4. This number is about double the figure in the United States.

From Indentured Servitude in the Persian Gulf by Richard Morin (New York Times)



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  • najib

    I actually worked as a teacher in the Sultanate of Oman for three years and I witnessed atrocities; unheard of before; committed against foreign workers. I had seen people working for more than 14 hour a day in the worst possible climatic conditions ever. That’s why the international community should get rid of its hypocresy and stop flirting with the Gulf states and put pressure on them stop the sponsorship system; known as Kafala ; that allows the sponsor or kafeel to do whatever he wants with a foreign worker. Sponsorship is a sort of institutional slavery.