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Qatar Lifts Exit Restrictions on Most Foreign Workers
Foreign workers are shown in May 2015 walking to their living quarters from the construction site of Doha’s al-Wakrah Stadium, being built for the 2022 World Cup, to be hosted by Qatar. (Marwan Naamani/AFP via Getty Images)

Qatar Lifts Exit Restrictions on Most Foreign Workers

The Qatari government, in a statement released on Thursday, said that restrictions on the exit of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Asian countries such as Nepal, India and the Philippines, had been lifted. But members of the armed forces would still require exit permits, and employers could still demand that up to 5% of their workforce receive prior approval before leaving the country. The easing of restrictions is among the reforms that the country is implementing to answer widespread accusations of exploitation and other human rights abuses, in preparation for hosting the 2022 World Cup. Labor unions and human rights activists have criticized Qatar for exploitive and dangerous working conditions that have led to injuries and deaths among expatriate workers. In 2018, the country lifted the exit visa requirement for many foreign workers but did not apply the policy to domestic workers, government and public institution staff, the oil and gas industries, agricultural workers, or workers employed at sea. Qatar has a total population of about 2.9 million, of which about 10% are citizens; most of the rest are foreign workers.

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