Expats in Qatar see leave cancelled and travel restrictions imposed

Published:  23 Jun at 6 PM
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Expats living and working in Qatar are being banned form leaving the country after their agreed holiday periods were cancelled.

According to expat engineers and executives working at Qatar Petroleum, the ban and cancellations began just one day after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed all links with the emirate due to its supposed support for militant groups. One British expat working at a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum reported that he'd been told his exit permit and agreed holiday leave were cancelled.

When questioned about the ban and cancellations, a Qatari government spokesperson admitted leave periods had been set aside, but stated the orders were made to keep staff on hand whilst the government attempted to cope with the unexpected crisis. No mention of restrictions on foreigners or travel bans was made. On being asked for more details, a Qatar Petroleum spokesperson said selected employees in critical positions might have been asked to take later leaves at their discretion, adding the move was for operational reasons only.

Medical specialists including doctors working at state-owned Hamad Hospital are telling a similar story, with many stating the orders had affected a large number of people. No-one from the hospital’s management was available for comment, but an unnamed Qatari official approached by local media said the overall restrictions had been put in place to ensure the success of vital planning for new shipping routes for foodstuffs.

Meanwhile, as Saudization lurches further into expat lives, expatriates are now forbidden from buying fresh produce in Jeddah’s central vegetable market. According to an official, traders cannot serve foreigners as this impedes the success of total Saudization. Director of Public Markets and Slaughterhouses Nasser al Jarallah told business owners working at the market to refuse to sell to waiting foreigners but, unsurprisingly, the order led to a standoff with the traders insisting no law exists preventing them from selling to foreigners.

Following the stand-off, regular raids have taken place in the market, resulting in the arrests of customers and expat workers, the closure of many stalls and daily losses by the market’s operating company of considerable amounts of money. It seems a rule forcing 100 per cent Saudization of the market’s workforce has been brought in, with traders stating they are attempting to obey the new regulation but cannot find enough Saudi citizens to man the stalls. Traders are suggesting the municipality should provide full details of those willing to work.
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