Qatar considers scrapping sponsorship system

Under the system, foreigners cannot enter or leave the country, or take up or switch jobs, unless they get the approval of their sponsor.

Updated: Nov 12, 2010, 10:04 AM IST

Dubai: After Bahrain and Kuwait, Qatar is now considering withdrawal of its sponsorship system to tighten control over foreign workers, the country`s Prime Minister has said.

"The government is now seriously looking into the sponsorship system, and in light of the latest developments, the issue requires some legal and other measures," Shaikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani said in Doha today.

Shaikh Hamad, who is also his country`s foreign minister, said that it was highly significant for Qatar to "look after its domestic affairs".

"The government is studying very carefully the issue to ensure that the rights of Qatari citizens, employees and those who come to work in Qatar are all preserved.

"There is a crucial need to ensure there is balance between all rights," he was quoted as saying by the Qatar News Agency.

Bahrain and Kuwait are the only other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to cancel a system. Bahrain abolished the system in 2009, and Kuwait reportedly plans to do so by February.

Under the system, foreigners cannot enter or leave the country, or take up or switch jobs, unless they get the approval of their sponsor.

Speaking at the launch of the new headquarters of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), Shaikh Hamad said several important changes have occurred in the sponsorship system in the last two years.

"They are part of the procedures to scrap the system, but the whole process takes some time and cannot happen overnight," he added.

"There is no doubt about the politicisation of numerous issues for specific purposes, so there is a need to promote awareness among citizens and foreign residents," he said.

PTI