Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ labor system

Qatari Labour Minister Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi (R) and assistant director general of the Department of Border, Passport and Expatriates Affairs at the Labour ministry, Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed al-Atiq give a joint press conference to announce the end to Qatar's internationally condemned "kafala" sponsorship law for migrant workers, on Monday in Doha. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2016

Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ labor system

DOHA: Qatar on Monday formally announced the end of its controversial “kafala” system, arguably the biggest ever labor reform undertaken by the 2022 football World Cup host nation. In a long-expected announcement, Labor Minister Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi said the “kafala” rules would be abolished effective Dec. 13.
He said a contract-based system to govern the country’s 2.1 million foreign workers would take its place.
Under “kafala,” all foreign workers employed in Qatar require a local sponsor, in the form of an individual or company, and need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country.
“The new law is the latest step toward improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar,” Nuaimi said.
“It replaces the kafala system with a modernized, contract-based system that safeguards workers’ rights and increases job flexibility.”
Freedom of movement is guaranteed under the new rules, said Qatari officials, including giving workers the right to change jobs.
Any workers mistreated will automatically be allowed to change jobs, said officials.
The exit visa formally needed to leave the country under “kafala” will be abolished, although workers will still need their employers’ permission to leave.
An appeals committee has been established for expats who are denied permission to leave, and that committee will begin work on Tuesday.
Employers who confiscate workers’ passports could be fined QR25,000 ($6,800, 6,400 euros), up from QR10,000 under “kafala.”
The new law should also offer greater contract protection, officials said.


Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

Updated 22 min 30 sec ago

Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

  • Tanker was detained by Tehran on July 19
  • Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm

LONDON: The owner of a British-flagged tanker detained in Iran has met the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to make the case for the ship and its crew to be released.

Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm on Aug. 20 to ask for the Stena Impero to be released.

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READ MORE: Iran threatens ‘less secure’ shipping lanes if US halts oil exports

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It was detained by Tehran on July 19, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. That ship was released this week.

“A constructive dialogue was had and we shared information around the case,” Hanell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It was important for us to emphasize the importance of the release of the 23 crew ... Also for the release of the Swedish owned vessel Stena Impero.