Recent estimates indicate that there are between 29 and 35 million migrant workers present in the Gulf. Many migrant workers in Qatar and in other Gulf states live and work in difficult conditions and have limited financial resources or social capital to improve their situations. A great deal of international criticism has focused on Qatar for shortfalls in upholding migrants’ labor rights. But conditions of precarity experienced by this group of workers are also globally relevant, as temporary labor migrants have increasingly become a visible part of workforces in many industrialized nations. In parts of the world that have long served as destinations for migration and settlement, there has been a shift towards addressing labor shortages through temporary migration programs.
Policy reports and journalistic articles typically represent migrant workers either as agency-less victims or else as potential socioeconomic threats to the societies that host them. There are countless academic and scholarly publications that focus on labor migrants as objects of study. The space restrictions in written reports and journal articles mean that migrant stories are often quoted in short snippets or distilled to emphasize the author’s core arguments, which inevitably ends up presenting fractured and simplistic narratives. In this podcast series, we asked individuals to tell us their stories in free form and to focus on what they feel is most significant.
This podcast series, which features participants from a number of African and Asian sending countries, seeks to give migrants in Qatar an opportunity to tell their stories, in their own words and in their own way. While each of the episodes in this podcast chronicles an individual’s unique experiences, it is also representative of a much larger story—the story of millions of temporary labor migrants living and working all around the world.