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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Working: Qatar style

Ahmed is from Egypt, and he is a government driver.

Everyday, Ahmed picks my friend up from his apartment and drives him ten minutes up the road to the office where he works. He hangs around the office all day, chatting with the people who do the photocopying in the photocopying room, and the people who sit on their hands on chairs outside the canteen, and the people who play patience and check the cricket scores on the computer.

When my friend has finished working, Ahmed drives him home. He gets paid 1,500 riyals ($400) a month to do this.

You might get the impression from this piece that people in Qatar do no work. On the contrary, many people work extremely hard. A lot of them do twelve hour shifts. Chances are, you’ll work a lot harder in the private sector, although this is not always the case, as a thousand doctors and nurses will vouch.

Many of the people who work twelve hour shifts have a second job. I met one Egyptian man who used to drive twelve hours for KFC. Then he would go and do another six hours for another company. He was putting his third son through Medical School. His son, he said, often complained that Medical School was hard.

The disparity between working hours is not fair, of course. But then, as people in Qatar know well, life’s not fair.

Also see:

Finding work in Qatar

Qatar Jobs

Builders in Qatar