Even more so than Singapore, Qatar relies on migrant labour. Out of the sheikdom’s 2.8 million population, only about 300 – 400,000 are citizens; the rest are migrant workers and expatriates. In fact, some 60% of Qatar’s population are low-wage migrant workers living in “labour camps”, similar to our foreign worker dormitories.
Now comes another similarity: Covid-19 cases exploded in Qatar starting from early April, roughly a week behind Singapore. As at 28 April, Worldometers.info shows a total of 11,921 cases, nearly as many as Singapore has, but in a country with only half our population. We’re not yet able to find out what percentage of these cases are found among migrant workers in labour camps, but a local newspaper, The Peninsula, said in a report dated 27 April 2020 that “Most of the new cases registered are due to expatriate workers working in different occupations…”.
Here is a graph originating from John Hopkins, but which we found from an Indian newspaper, Business Standard.
The poor conditions in Qatar’s labour camps have been well-documented over the past six years. Take a look at these videos, and they will remind you of Singapore’s foreign worker dormitories.