Thursday, April 25, 2013

Qatar says charter will protect workers of worldcup 2022

The committee responsible for the football World Cup in Qatar says a new "workers' charter" will protect workers deployed for the preparations of worldcup 2022.

Dario Cadavid, Assurance and Integration Senior Manager, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, said worker safety was of "paramount importance".

However the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said it was "very disappointed".

The ITUC's Sharan Burrow said the charter will not help migrant workers. Ms Burrow was critical of a process under which, she said, "none of (the) documents have been released to the public or discussed with unions, and workers remain in the dark about their rights".

The charter was announced at a conference of the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) held in the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday.

Mr Cadavid told the conference: "We look forward to a long-term partnership with IOSH to ensure a lasting legacy of worker welfare standards in Qatar."

He added "we are working very hard preparing the groundwork, including developing a comprehensive strategy on workers' safety, health, security and welfare and the workers charter is is only a first step. We are aware of the task that is ahead of us and will work in a sustained and committed manner to succeed".

Qatar and other Gulf states have long been criticised by international labour and human rights organisation for the poor treatment of migrant workers who suffer from low wages, high death rates on construction sites and substandard living conditions.

Most of the workers come from the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines.

A new study on human trafficking by the International Labor Organisation (ILO) states that migrant workers in the Middle East are among the most likely group of people to become victims of forced labour.

The report highlighted the Kafala (sponsorship) system where workers are not allowed to end unfair employment contracts or change employers, calling it "inherently problematic".

The ITUC's Sharan Burrow said that what she called loopholes in the Qatari labour law created "conditions of 21st Century slavery".

She added: "Reform of Qatari labour law to meet international standards is the only way to give workers in Qatar their rights."

In a statement to the BBC, FIFA - the international football body which runs the World Cup - said that the ITUC and the ILO were among a number of organisations it was meeting to "ensure healthy, safe and dignified working conditions" are in place when stadium construction begins later this year.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Qatar to use solar power for cooling in Worldcup

BERLIN reported by CNN that Qatar is racing to develop efficient solar-powered cooling technology to counter the searing heat of the Middle Eastern summer in its stadiums during the 2022 soccer World Cup quoting a senior organising committee official Mr. Nasser Al-Khater Al-Khater said the wealthy emirate already boasted the world's first cooled stadium, albeit with traditional energy sources. Temperatures in Qatar can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

"We showed (world governing body) FIFA how the cooling technology works, it was warm outside but in stadium was cold they wanted their jackets," Al-Khater said during a trip to Berlin for a Qatari business and investment conference. "So cooling a stadium is not the issue." The issue is that Qatar has promised to hold a carbon-neutral World Cup and so is researching solar-powered cooling technology. It will either create a central solar power farm or have individual ones installed in each of the 12 stadiums it is building, said Al-Khater.

 "When you don't use it for the stadiums you feed it into the grid," he said. The emirate developed a small, solar-powered prototype stadium seating 500 during the bid process but wants to develop more efficient technologies ahead of 2022. "With solar, the big challenge is how do you deal with solar technology in the desert in terms of withstanding the elements and getting it clean so it is efficient," Al-Khater said. He said he had met several German companies during his trip to Berlin that had interesting proposals. Germany has been a pioneer in solar technology.

 Many leading voices in football such as UEFA president Michel Platini have called for the World Cup to be held in December or January, when the average temperature is 17 degrees, rather than in the middle of the year. Historically, the World Cup has always been held in June and July and any change could lead to a major scheduling headache with the major European leagues normally playing through the winter. Qatar's right to stage the 2022 World Cup if the event is moved to the winter months would also be open to a legal challenge.

Al-Khater said Qatar would go ahead researching and installing the cooling technology either way as the stadiums would be used in the summer months even after the World Cup. "Whether it is a winter or summer World Cup we will be ready," he said. Al-Khater said Qatar, a tiny country home to just 1.7 million inhabitants, was using modular seating for the upper tiers of its new stadiums in order to be able to downsize after the World Cup.

"The idea is we will contribute the seats to countries that need to develop their sporting infrastructure." He said it was too early to discuss whether or not alcohol, which is legal in Qatar albeit under restrictions, would be allowed in the stadiums. "One thing we want people to know is alcohol is not part of our culture," he said. "And every World Cup you go to, people experience the local culture, its differences and similarities." Though led by a ruling family viewed as highly progressive by Gulf standards, the fact remains that most Qataris are very conservative.

Most practice Wahhabism, the austere form of Islam also practiced in Saudi Arabia. "We will come up with a solution that will keep everyone happy, so whether it means certain zones where alcohol is permitted, or another type of arrangement," he said. "Around the world people are steering away from alcohol in the stadium." Al-Khater said he hoped hosting the World Cup would further bolster Qatar's status as a sports hub in the region. "Qatar is also a second home to many teams that find they cant host matches, for example it is home turf for Iraq for their qualifying matches," he said.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Qatar eyes IPO for $12bn vehicle

Qatar is planning to offer shares in a new $12bn investment vehicle in May, in a move that will set in train one of the largest initial public offerings (IPOs) in the Middle East.

The investment vehicle – called Doha Global Investment Co – will list on the local stock market after the end of a public subscription period, Hussain Ali Al Abdulla, chairman of Qatar Exchange, said on Sunday.
He added that the IPO will be open only to Qatari companies, institutions and citizens and the nominal value of the shares listed will be 10 Qatari riyals. Foreign investors will be able to buy the company’s shares after the as-yet unspecified listing date.

Qatar announced the creation of the investment vehicle two months ago, in a move analysts said was aimed at boosting its international clout, and enriching its tiny population. The entity will be half-owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund and is planning to invest across asset classes – potentially expanding Qatar’s widespread and fast-growing portfolio of global investments that range from German carmakers Porsche and Volkswagen to Tiffany, the American jeweller.

The investment firm will give the Qatari people and its companies “the opportunity to enjoy the access and deal flow that Qatar Holding has”, Ahmad al-Sayed, chief executive of Qatar Holding, the sovereign wealth fund, said in February. Qatar Holding has stood out from its sovereign wealth fund peers in the Gulf over the past year by investing in high-profile assets in the wake of the financial crisis.