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Abstract

Some 400,000 unskilled and prevalently male Nepali labourers work in Qatar as per an agreement between the governments of the two countries. They are the lowest level of the genetically engineered pyramid of some two million migrant workers that represent some 90 per cent of the resident population in Qatar. The pyramid and the myriad forms of exploitation and discrimination that go with it are functional to Qatar’s development agenda and in particular preparations for the 2022 football World Cup. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal and Qatar, this chapter analyses social transformations in rural Nepal, the exploitative regulation of migration and the human condition of Nepali migrants in Qatar as well as the meanings ascribed to it. We look at the pressure exerted by international organisations, namely the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international trade unions, that led to reforms recently introduced by Qatar and reflect on the longer-term implications, if and when the ‘brave new world’ of Qatar no longer requires an extensive migrant presence.

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