Al Khor: The Town of Men
Shabeb Al Rumaihi highlights the skewed gender ratio in Al-Khor.
A couple of months ago, I went to Al-Khor (57kms from Doha) to visit a friend. Shocking doesn’t begin to describe the experience. The place was packed tight with men. To be more precise, labourers from South Asia. You could barely spot a Qatari or a family in the milieu.
Abdulrahman Al-Muhannadi, a friend of mine, has lived there his entire life, and I was curious about how he felt about this situation. Especially since in recent months there has been talk in the local media about Al Khor residents protesting against expatriate labour.
Abdulrahman emphasises that this is not true. “We are not against foreign labour, we are against such large numbers of bachelors in neighbourhoods that house families.”
Al Khor used to be occupied predominantly by Qataris and families, and that has changed dramatically in the last several years.
As Abdulrahman explains, women and children used to walk around the neighbourhood, visiting friends and families. That has completely stopped, as the environment is hardly conducive these days. Families are beginning to feel insecure, as well.
The residents have raised the issue with the Al-Khor municipality, but that has come to naught.
This situation raises many uncomfortable questions that we need to address.
Why aren’t companies empowering foreign labour to bring their families with them?
Wouldn’t it be more in keeping with Qatar National Vision 2030, if we did?
Is it sustainable to keep bringing in cheap labour from poorer nations, without giving the workers a reasonable standard of living?
Why don’t they encourage the workers to marry and start their life here?
If they are integral to the development of our country, don’t they deserve to be treated better? And in turn wouldn’t that make our lives better as well?