By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
There is a growing demand among workers that embassies of major labour-supplying countries provide consular services from premises within Doha and its immediate neighbourhood that are easily accessible, especially from the Industrial Area.
The demand comes as the country witnesses the arrival of large groups of workers for major infrastructure projects and those being developed as part of the FIFA 2022 World Cup preparations.
An overwhelming section of the country’s workers comes from countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan, according to a study conducted by a local university as part of a report on the welfare of Qatar’s workforce.
The report said that of the country’s population of more than 2.5mn, a little over 1.75mn are workers and a significant percentage of them live in places such as the Industrial Area, Al Wakrah, Wukair, Umm Salal, Al Khor and Ras Laffan. Of these, the Industrial Area alone is reported to have around 250,000 residents, say sources.
Two major “labour cities” that have come up over the last two years on the outskirts of the Industrial Area and other housing units in the same area have attracted thousands of construction workers.
These developments have prompted workers of different nationalities, particularly those living in the densely populated Industrial Area, to call for the availability of consular services at convenient locations.
While most embassies are located in the West Bay-Dafna area, the diplomatic missions of some of the countries that have large worker populations in Qatar are housed elsewhere. These include the embassies of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
These embassies get a large number of visitors every day, a majority of whom seek consular services. While many of these missions are conveniently located, workers feel the embassies concerned may consider their request to open satellite branches in other easily accessible locations - particularly close to the Industrial Area - to provide only consular services.
At present, applications for some consular services are received at the Indian Cultural Centre off the E-Ring Road in Mesaimeer, while the Nepalese embassy has shifted from Abu Hamour to Ain Khalid, a place that is relatively close to the Industrial Area.
However, in view of the volume of work handled by some of the south Asian countries’ embassies, workers living in the Industrial Area say the opening of satellite facilities in the vicinity will not only make things easier for them but also take the load off the main diplomatic missions and further streamline services.
Some employers, too, have stressed the demand for such facilities. “It will prove beneficial to everyone,” said an operator of a manpower firm.
Of late, there has been a growing demand from Indian expatriates for a new facility - that will be easily accessible from the Industrial Area - where different consular services will be handled. The demand comes in the wake of reports that the Indian embassy will shift to West Bay from its current location in Al Hilal.
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