Abolition of exit permit tops Qatar expats’ wish list

January 1, 2011

The abolition of the controversial exit permit tops the wish list of the expatriate community in Qatar, a survey has found.

The permit needed by foreigners from their sponsor every time they want to travel out of the country is part of the harshly criticised sponsorship system that gives employers rights over the movements of their employees.

“There are some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states where the exit permit rules do not exist,” said Abdul Razak, an expatriate. “We hear that Qatar is also planning to remove such hurdles in the way of overseas travel for non-nationals. My prayer for the New Year is that Qatar removes the exit permit system,” he told Qatari daily The Peninsula. His friend said that his wish would be the easing of the sponsorship rules.

Hopes about positive changes to status of foreigners were raised after Qatar was selected to host the 2022 World Cup finals.

“The biggest expectation of almost every expatriate is that the emigration law in Qatar will change in 2011,” Jaffral Azkaan, a Sri Lankan accountant, said. “Everyone is talking about it. When we come here to work, we come leaving the job in our countries and with many expectations to look after our families. It would be great if the law was changed here to allow employees to switch their jobs with the least conditions, especially in the case of termination. When someone cancels his existing visa and leaves the country, he should be permitted to re-enter the country within a maximum of six months, without any no-objection letter from his previous employer,” said Azkaan.

However, for some expatriates in the private sector, a salary raise that matches the increase in prices tops their wish list.

“We are expecting a salary increment this year because our companies are expected to get more projects this year,” said Sadanand, an Indian. “This means that their profits will go up and we will have to put in more years here.”

Darshan Sanjeeva, a Sri Lankan, said he hoped that, with Qatari economy booming in the wake of the successful 2022 bid win, more jobs would be created and workers’ salaries would be raised. “I wish 2011 will bring more financial prosperity to Qatar, creating new projects and job opportunities,” said Sanjeewa, a graphic artist.

Arun Meena, an Indian national, had similar wishes. “My expectation is more financial growth in this country, so not only Qatar and its citizens, but also expatriate communities would benefit in different ways,” he said.

However, for an Indian from Kerala, the top wish is that the Indian government would eventually allow non-resident nationals (overseas Indians) to vote in Indian elections.

“It’s high time the Indian parliament allowed us to exercise our political right, that of casting our ballot in civic, assembly and parliamentary polls,” he said.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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