Qatar will soon be considering granting expats the right to permanent residency if they meet “pre-determined criteria,” the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 has revealed.
The decision, which is part of a series of measures aimed at attracting a superior workforce into the State, is aimed at addressing concerns that the current employment sponsorship rules are a hindrance to the labor market.
At present the Qatar government operate a controversial system that allows employers to have full control over the work and residence rights of their employees. This has triggered a great deal of criticism from local and international human rights groups who claim that the system is archaic and in need of reform. Some individuals, including the Bahraini formed labor minister, have described it as a system that is akin with modern-day slave labor.
Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2011—2016 was unveiled on Monday and alludes to the failings of the current system: “A rigid labor market hampers the development of a workforce commensurate with aspirations for a knowledge economy,” the supporting document says. “The transition to a more diversified economy requires more high-skilled labor.”
According to the report, if current levels of industrial activity remain the same, 1.6 million workers will be needed in Qatar by the year 2016.
The importance of expatriate workers has also been exposed by the Qatar National Vision 2030: “For the foreseeable future, Qatar will not have a sufficient number of citizens to manage the complex systems, infrastructure and other requirements of a rapidly growing, diversifying and technologically sophisticated economy,” the report said.
“The transition to a more diversified economy requires more high-skilled labor. Due to the size of Qatar’s economy relative to its population, a significant share of high-skilled workers will have to be expatriates.”
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