A Portrait of Low-Income Labor Migrants in Contemporary Qatar

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Publication Date


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Journal of Arabian Studies


Sociology & Anthropology


Though transnational labor migration in the Gulf States has increasingly been of scholarly interest, that scholarship has to date relied largely on qualitative ethnographic methodologies or small non-representative sampling strategies. This paper presents the findings of a large representative sample of low-income migrant laborers in Qatar. The data describe the basic characteristics of the low-income migrant population in Qatar, the process by which migrants obtain employment, the frequency with which this population of migrants encounters the problems and challenges described by previous ethnographic work, and the role played by nationality, ethnicity, and religion in patterning that experience. While the findings generally affirm many of the claims made in earlier ethnographic studies, they provide a means by which the extent of these problems and challenges can be ascertained more directly.