Qatar 2022: What is Kafala?

Qatar 2022: What is Kafala?
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Ever since Qatar won the bid to host the 2022
World Cup finals seven years ago, both FIFA and the tiny, gas-rich Persian Gulf state
has been mired in accusations of alleged corruption and, more seriously, the poor treatment of
the migrant workers who are building the country’s stadiums and infrastructure. One word in particular has entered into the
public’s lexicon: Kafala. Kafala means “sponsorship” in Arabic,
and is a system used in all Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi
Arabia, to control and manage their huge migrant populations who build these countries’ infrastructure.
Over 90 per cent of Qatar’s population are migrant workers, mainly from Pakistan, India
and Bangladesh. But that percentage is similar in all Gulf state. They work for low wages,
in high heat and often live in sprawling labour camps away from the big cities. Essentially, kafala means that an employer
is solely responsible for that worker’s visa and well being. The system is popular amongst
the citizens of the Gulf, as it keeps tight control over the population even as they are
in the minority. But this system has resulted in widespread
abuse across the Middle East, ranging from movement restrictions and non-payment of wages
to appalling accommodation; from arrests, alleged torture and deportation for demanding
better conditions, to suicide and even early sudden death from working long hours in unimaginable
heat. Human rights organisations have for years
decried this system. Human Rights Watch has called kafala a form of “indentured servitude”. Yet it was Qatar’s winning World Cup bid – which
it had hoped would put the country on the map – that had a rather unintended effect.
It also put kafala on the map and exposed a system that had affected millions of workers. But few know how kafala works. In many cases,
the exploitation doesn’t begin in the Middle East. It begins at home, as a long chain of
governments, companies and individuals exploit some of the poorest people in the world. So, how does kafala work? Take Bangladesh,
one of the largest exporters of workers. In fact, remittances – wages sent home from
abroad – make up as much as 10 per cent of the country’s GDP. In villages far outside of sprawling cities
like Dhaka, there are few opportunities for work outside of subsistence farming. Agents
are sent out to the villages to find workers, often poor and illiterate, offering opportunities
to make relative large sums of money in the Middle East. The agents have already secured visas from
Middle East countries, which have been raised and approved by companies and government departments
back in the UAE, Saudi or Qatar. The visa comes at a price, money that they
do not have. So they will borrow money against the family’s land to pay the agent, the going
rate for a Qatari visa being around £3,500, a huge sum in Bangladesh where per capita
income is just £1000. Bribes would usually have to be paid all along
the line in Bangladesh, from getting a passport to sorting out the paperwork. Once they have arrived in the Middle East
a myriad of problems presents themselves. One of the biggest is low pay, often far lower
than the contract they had signed back home. Some workers can be paid as little as £200
a month, making it virtually impossible to send any money home. The worker is also trapped because if he or
she returns home, they will have to repay the loan they took on their family’s land.
Without the money, the family is homeless, so the worker stays, unable to send much money
home, and unable to leave to find a better solution. Kafala means that workers cannot change job
without their employer’s permission. In the case of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, they cannot
even leave the country without their employer’s say so. So, millions of workers toil for a pittance,
in extreme heat. Even if they could afford it, they are exiled from living in the cities
and herded into migrant labour camps with often awful sanitary conditions, living from
eight to sixteen people in a room. Worse, your wages and conditions are often
judged by you country of origin and how hard your embassy is willing to stand up for you.
As remittances are so important to the Bangladeshi government, workers complain that they are
paid the lowest wages and given the harshest treatment. Their embassy is unlikely to rock
the boat. As Dr Chowdhury Abar, director of the refugee
and migratory movements research unit at the University of Dhaka explains, the Bangladeshi
government “does not stand up for the migrants with as much strength and support as they
should … We are fearful as a country if we speak too much about rights and good treatment
of migrant workers we would lose the labour market.” No one is even sure how many workers have
died, or how they have died. Few statistics on worker deaths in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi
exist. It is in that context that the 2022 World
Cup was being built. Initially, the plight of workers building stadiums and infrastructure
in Qatar had received minimal coverage. But international reporting and persistent reports
from human rights organisation brought the issue to the fore. Qatar made limited reforms to the system but
FIFA came under withering criticism for allowing the exploitation to take place in the first
place. In a 2016 report from Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty wrote that:
“The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players
and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke
to us, it can feel like a living nightmare.” The bad publicity forced both FIFA and Qatar
to start addressing the issue. A “Workers Charter” was instituted as was a system
of electronic wages to end late and under payments. But changes had been promised before
and not been implemented and at times it felt like true reform was being given lip service. And then the cause of workers’ rights in the
Gulf got an boost from an unlikely source. A political and economic boycott between Saudi
Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt against Qatar has prompted a new wave of worker reforms. Qatar announced that Kafala was, effectively,
to be abolished including the need to ask your employer for an exit visa. Contracts
would have to be lodged with a central committee so that workers will get the same wages they
were promised back home. And, most significantly, a minimum wage would exist to end the practice
of different wages for different countries even for the same jobs, which had been criticised
for being racist. This would mark a significant shift and would
see far better protection for workers than the United Arab Emirates, which has largely
ignored calls to bring in genuine reform. Although there would still be restrictions
on workers, so it isn’t quite the full repeal of kafala that has been promised. Still, both the International Trade Union
Confederation and the recent World Report by Human Rights Watch, two organisations that
have been sharply critical of Qatar, hailed the move as a positive step. Millions of workers continue to pour into
the Middle East, escaping grinding poverty and hoping for a better life. But, a word
of caution. Promises have been made before. Often laws
have been passed but there has been little implementation on the ground, making any legal
changes largely irrelevant. Human Rights Watch wrote that “These measures would be pathbreaking
for Gulf countries where migrants make up most of the labor force, but the announcement
gives little detail on how laws will be amended, how the changes will be carried out, or the
timeframe for their implementation.” As Nicholas McGeehan, a human rights advocate
who has been one of the most visible champions for better worker rights across the Gulf,
tweeted after the announcement was made: @ HRW take an optimistic view of the human
rights situation in #Qatar in their World Report. It’s ok to be optimistic, and I hope
they’re right. I’m skeptical and I hope I’m wrong.

100 thoughts on “Qatar 2022: What is Kafala?

  1. Hey this happens in Mexico too, specifically in Ensenada, Baja California, is not quite the same but very similar, it's pretty sickening

  2. The solution to this is simple…stop going there, we all know the condition there is very bad, wages if paid are low, the hours are long and the treatment is super bad..so don’t go there

  3. everyone should boycott qutar 2022. it would be a huge statement if countries simply refused to send their teams to this cunt of a nation

  4. Dear

    You are totally in wrong postion with Kafala. Kafala is made to save the laboor worker and the sponser is resposible for every act of his enployee.

    But those countries who sells their people to work outside should be respossible of the level their people reach.

  5. The problem not from Qatar , the problem is form the worker exporting countries and the way they treat people.

    You can find dead people in Indaia and Bangladish of the steert where no body show a care.

  6. The wages are low and the coniditons are bad, so why do they work? Because if they don't there's nothing better to do. They go all the way from their countries to arab countries so they can get money, and the "low wage" can actually get them a lot of what they want back in their homes. So, in stead of making these people do nothing, these countries hire them so it's a win-win situation. If the western countries were any better, they'd bring these poor people and give them jobs, instead of making it impossible to migrate, and in some countries where even when they manage to migrate, there is no jobs and they go back, having wasted time and energy.

    TL;DR: I'm not saying this video is false, nor a propaganda. However, this video clearly has taken all sorts of information from a source that's spreading propaganda. Whether Qatar should host the world cup, i personally say no, but don't spread lies, because they might've won their world cup by corruption, but you're contributing to another form of corruption

  7. I hope my county's FA boycotts the 2022 world cup. It would be a tragedy, but the corruption from FIFA shouldn't be allowed to continue. It's incumbent on the nations to force change.

  8. 1st rule of this.
    Rich always exploit poor.
    In 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th,and even in 20th century European exploited Africans, South Asians and Latin Americas, now again South Asians are exploited by Arabs.
    Well done riches

  9. As an European who had been living in Qatar for 2 years, I can say that this is mostly true. However, I must say that the main reasons why the south Asian workers are being treated the way they are, is because of themselves and/or their countries. I can say that Indians, Bengali, Nepali etc. people, even working at better and more respectable positions and in much better conditions are not taking showers for days and days, throwing garbage everywhere, being dirty in every sense of the word. So if you behave like an animal, people will treat you like an animal and take advantage of you. Not that I justify the things that are happening there, because the whole affair is a big crime. Not to mention that many people there are living in far worse conditions, especially Qatari families' workers, who are being beaten, sexually abused, and even killed, and nobody there cares about it.

    As for the conditions in the country during the World Cup, I wouldn't be much worried about it. During the Asian games in 2006, Qatar basically opened completely, and most things normally considered there illegal were ignored for the time being. After that, they went back to their close mindedness. Not to mention that that globalization is taking it's toll on Qatar too, and that they are much more open minded than they were 12 years ago. And I am assured that the situation will be much better in the years to come, there are still 4 and a half left until the World Cup.

  10. Never understood why people said that we should boycott Qatar WC but now I'm know. Really cool videos!

  11. 1) They use slave labour
    2) They clearly bribed FIFA
    3) The country has no history (especially when it comes to sport)
    4) Their new stadiums will be useless after the world Cup
    5) They will hold the world cup in November-December during the regular season of European leagues
    6) They have sharia laws ffs
    I thought that FIFA endorsed Democracy and human rights, not the opposite…

    Some countries simply arent meant to host the world cup.
    And some dont DESERVE to host it.

    Qatar fits these last two profiles exactly

  12. I’m Saudi,and I realize my Bangladeshi brothers suffering,sorry for that mate.

    Well,they can send money back to there home,and they can leave.
    Comparing it to what I’ve seen happen to them in Qatar (through foreign eyes),they are treated in Saudi Arabia better then they are treated in Qatar.

    Well we have a Bangladeshi driver,(he’s on vacation) and we treat him very well,he’s like a part of the family,some people offered him a new job with higher salary but he rejected and decided to stay with us.

    He has been working with us for over 13 years.

  13. The biggest criminal is the government of Bangladesh for me.
    Make jobs in your own country, dont send your people to other country & doesnt stand for them when something's wrong.
    Do something

  14. I want the good old 🇺🇸USA🇺🇸 to win the cup I dont want it to happen in Qatar every one should get equal rights.

  15. Blows my mind how Qatar was the voted country. I don't see 1 reason supporting it. They don't have stadiums, public transportation isn't that great. And the world cup has to be in the winter. Only thing they do have is money

  16. The prophet used to say that you should be paying a labourer his wages before the sweat dries off his forehead… these so called wahabi oil rich countries donot stand for any of the teachings of the prophet… hope the world cup is cancelled in qatar & these people who torment these workers face the severest punishment in this life & in the afterlife as well

  17. You fucking fail to add that Qatar's news also known as "Al Jazeera" was the one who created such awareness,

  18. FIFA has a years long organized campaign to fight what little racism remains in the game, but are totally okay with slave labor building their tournament.

    The fact that this bid wasn't revoked after all the corruption came to light just goes to show that nothing has changed. The major footballing nations should boycott 2022 and force FIFA's hand.

    The fun and unity that the world cup brings isn't worth shit like this

  19. Well there is no footballing reason to give Qatar this opportunity. They don’t have any significant history in this game.iran has better histrory and far more suited for this event.

  20. These Arab nations have their grubby hands into everything. Won't help refugees, and expect us (UK) to take thousands of refugees.

  21. He still did not explain all things which related to Kafala. He just mentioning some fake information.
    Most of the points which he mintuoned are not related to Kafala.
    Kafala actually save the right of all worker and ensures that they will be treated as any employee or worker the world.
    Unfortunately this men he fail to explain it well.

  22. Proof that religion as a means to subjugation, Arabs treating non Arab Muslims as second class humans, nothing new or surprising

  23. It not just qatar all gulf countries have same issues. Still people are trying to migrate to these countries. Cz it's even worst is the situation in there place. No one likes to lead bad life. It's just agenda. No single worker is kidnapped and made labour . They do it in there own will as it's better than living in there own country and starving. Instead complain about the countries who send there citizen (which you call pathetic condition )to these countries. Complain of these corrupted nation. Boycott these nation who don't care about its citizen. Gulf countries are like they give something to people who have nothing.

  24. If you look at it really, the problem isn’t Watar. It’s fifa. If fifa didn’t accept the bribe, the slaves wouldn’t go through this torture

  25. You know what? Fuck boycotting, WC 2022 must stay in Qatar and every qualificated team must take part in the competiton. First of all, boycotting 2022 will bring politics in World cup and the Olympics can tell us that boycotting really ruin the competition. Just imagine Iran boycotting 2026 or England boycotting 2018. Secondly, it's not my problems that people dying, they are actually dying every day all around the world, why should we point only on theese workers? I just want to watch the best competition in the world that happens every 4 years and you're telling me that I must wait for 8 years instead just because of some idealists who are in a constant conflict with the world they live in? Our world is cruel, you must admit it. And even if 2022 will be boycotted it will change nothing: kafala exsist for decades, it's profitable, and everyone will just forget about boycott and the even exist of this country after the WC, so there's no any reason why it should change anything.
    I understand your concers, but reality is that boycott will ruin the World Cup and will change nothing.

  26. I am here in Qatar as a solutions architect also I am a published author in USA with my technical books in some of the respected libraries of USA. I hold an Indian passport, so hourly rates go down by half for that reason alone as compared to passports from a first-world nation.

    Secondly, every time I need to fly outside Qatar – I need to raise an exit permit request on a full fledged ERP system which has a line of approvals. It goes to my manager, then to the director and to the ER etc. Finally, the company logs an exit permit request with the govt. Without this exit permit clearance I am not allowed to fly outside Qatar.

    On the other hand, I earn lot of respect and tax-free salary at work. It's your own call at the end. Having said that, imagine the kind of trauma a poor worker goes who is away from loved ones for months and years. ILO must make it mandatory to brief such workers about the kafaala conditions, if they agree the home country must leave it to the workers to decide whether they want to go or not.

    I am here by choice and the day I feel I am compromising my core values primarily the freedom and fundamental human right – I will sign off.

    Finally, god helps those who help themselves. Period!

  27. need to boycott this madness. Put the WC 2022 in countries with already decent sport infrastructure like the US or UK

  28. Honest i dont want to watch the WC 2022 if it stays in Qatar. No man should die for me to watch football. Fuck Qatar and any state that treats people that way.

  29. A method of cheating in the Kafala system is using 2 contracts. One in English (or whatever language the worker speaks) and one in Arabic, that has different terms (less salary, benefits) and only the Arabic contract is legally binding

  30. What I wanna know is:

    What are the 10% native Qatari population doing with themselves if they need a 90% external labour market?

  31. a disgrace that barcelona is taking money from them.. even worse disgrace that psg is being abused as propaganda tool for those disgusting pigs.. workers solidarity!

  32. Kafala is modern slavery. I've worked in Qatar. The Nepalese workers are brought in by Qatar Airways and are sent back home by Qatar Airways Cargo… in coffins.
    This must stop!

  33. Plz boycott 2022 world cup…What human writes committees are doing??? are they corrupted ?? Not having stuff to deal with this issues??

  34. Qatar should not host the 2022 world cup let anyother contry host the world cup like sweden or norway or Danmmark but not Qatar

  35. Btw I do like that the human rights situation in the Middle East is being exposed by channels such as Tifo. This is a situation in which workers are genuinely being exploited and that is morally wrong. If Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup, I hope a mire of charges rain down upon them and they are persuaded to ditch religious fundamentalism (they are the largest funders of Wahabism, the Islamic belief that war should be waged on "infidels" or non believers) for liberal values and human rights.

  36. Neither saudi Arabia nor UAE abuse their migrant workers. A rule in Saudi Arabia has been implemented that during summer no one is allowed to work from 12:00 to 3:00 PM. this video is inaccurate and not as common as you're stating

  37. Not only in Qatar! In 2018 there were rumours that North Koreans in North Korean labor camps in Russia,were being sent to build new facilities for the Russia 2018 WC. Who knows if there are also North Koreans from Labor Camps working in Qatar??

  38. Foreigners have no respect from Arab countries.

    Arab countries have no respect from foreigners.

    Ban this horrendous world cup.

  39. I heard about this guy from Saudi Arabia who’s Pakistani maid got killed when his lion was loose inside the house…her embassy didn’t do anything and he killed his lions and threw him in a dump somewhere so he doesn’t get blamed I guess

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