Qatar has traditionally been one of the most popular destinations for Nepali workers overseas. There are over 400,000 Nepalis in Qatar, who make up 3 out of every 20 people in the country. They contribute 17 percent of the combined official annual remittances to Nepal from all countries except India.
The migration of Nepali workers increased drastically following the 2015 Nepal earthquake as affected families were in search for new sources of livelihood. Scarcity of jobs caused by the country’s slow industrialization has also prompted many Nepali youth to look for job options abroad.
However, the recent diplomatic row between Qatar and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition which resulted in the severing of road and sea links between the countries last month, has raised concerns in Nepal about the security and future of the Nepali migrant workers in Qatar.
Another repercussion of the events in the Gulf region is the sharp decline in the number of people applying for work permits to Qatar. According to Mohan Adhikari, Information Officer at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), the number of work permits issued has gone down to average 150-300 a day since the Qatar crisis began, from the earlier average of 700 to 800 work permits.
The crisis, which shows no signs of abating, could also go on to affect the large Nepali population, estimated to be around 700,000, in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain. Additionally, it could further the volatility in the oil prices impacting Nepal’s petroleum imports.
Nepali embassies in the region are on high alert and are proactively working towards providing information and assistance to workers as required.