Hours of work vary enormously in Qatar. Some people work six or five and a 1/2 days a week, other five, or four and a half, some finish at three or earlier, while others have to double shift. The car salesman who sold me my first car told me he was working 6 1/2 days a week - if this was true his employer was breaking the law, as there are strict rules regulating jobs, and about how many hours and days you can work.
I recently asked a few people if they thought they worked harder than in their home country.
The person who owns my local shop is certainly breaking the rules, if his employees are not exaggerating - one of the employees told me that they work seven days a week, often for fourteen hours a day. They certainly always look tired.
Jeff, a 40 year old American computer engineer, reckoned that he did about the same amount of work as he would do in his home country.
"However, I am asked to do more here, because I have to cover for people who don't do their work."
A friend who works in a major Qatar company also complained about the difference in the amount of work people do.
"There are the new people who have been brought in, who have a different attitude, and want to get things done. Then there are the people who have been here years, and who aim to do as little as possible."
She wasn't the only person who felt that local conditions made more work. I spoke to a Western woman with a senior position in a large organisation who was working very long hours, often finishing late at night, and usually going into work on one of her two days off. I asked her if she had worked as hard in her home country.
"It depends on the position - I have worked very hard before. But I find that I work harder here because of all the inefficiency I have to deal with."
Another Westerner told me that although he had been told he would do five days a week when he joined up, when he started work he found that it was normal to do 6 days a week. It was something he went along with for the first three months until his wife arrived, after which he insisted on having two days a week off.
Government jobs are generally considered the best, although particularly vulnerable to Qatarisation, forworking hours. However, in the Government the amount of work done can vary considerably. Some teachers working for the Ministry of Education actually teach very few hours, while those working for the Supreme Education Council really have to work hard, both with lesson preparation and form filling - and often have to attend training sessions too.
"They tell us we are lucky we don't work in the West," one tired teacher told me. She may be right. An English man who has a senior position at an international school told me that while he works hard here, it was nothing like what he was doing in England.
"My wife and I were working till one every morning, marking and doing administration. And it was at one o' clock in the morning that we decided we had had enough of working in the UK, and started looking for jobs abroad."
However, in my opinion the people with the hardest jobs, especially in the summer, are the laborers. Doing hard physical work in temperatures well above 40 degrees is killing, and you can often see the exhausted workers resting in a scrap of shade intheir lunch time break. Unfortunately for them, they also get some of the lowest wages - despite often having borrowed money to pay their way into Qatar.
I'll finish, though, with my Japanese friend, who thinks Qatar is wonderful.
"In my own country I work very hard. Most nights I only sleep 3 hours, although of course I sleep more on the weekends. In Qatar I sleep five hours every night, and I can still get up and go for a run before work. Qatar is paradise!"
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