A big story through a very small window
They are security men, pharmacists, engineers, salesmen, doormen, cashiers, teachers and many other occupations of low or middle income. They came to Qatar looking for a better life, just like most other expatriates here.
Africans, especially non-Arabs such as Kenyans, Ethiopians, Zambians, South Africans, Ghanaians and Nigerians, are the newest workforce in Qatar. They are taking up jobs that Indians and other South Asians commonly acquire in this small peninsula. South Africans and Nigerians, though, hold better occupations in Qatar than other non-Arab Africans. Engineering, teaching, advertising and business administrating are some of the many jobs they obtain.
“Nigeria is an oil producing country,” said a Nigerian pharmacist, Kabir Oritola. “Most of the workers there are not safe and find their way to a safe place like Qatar.” There are at least 2,000 Nigerians among the approximately 1.6 million people in Qatar.
The increase in this new source of manpower began in the beginning of 2010. Africans have been residents of Qatar for years, but now they are no longer such a small community. A Kenyan embassy will soon be opening in Qatar because of the increased number of Kenyans. However, out of the seven African countries mentioned, only South Africa has an embassy. Instead of a Nigerian embassy in Qatar is the Diaspora Organization (NIDO-Qatar), a Nigerian community organization that helps Nigerians to connect with one another and discuss their issues. However, according to Oritola, a Nigerian embassy is in the process of being established in Qatar because of the growing community of Nigerians.
As these nationalities increase, a question of feeling comfortable in this foreign country also rises. “As an expatriate, I cannot be at home even if I live here for a 100 years,” said Oritola. In his eyes, the Qatari laws make it difficult for non-nationals to feel at home because of the difficulties they face in bringing their families to Qatar. It’s equally difficult for them to go back home because of their commitment to work, and the money they make allows them to travel only once every year.