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“If you let them (low-income foreign workers) live on the social fringes, the danger is they would take to illegal activities and emerge as a threat to social security,” said Dr Kulthum Ali Al Ghanem.
A sociologist who teaches at Qatar University, Al Ghanem told this newspaper yesterday that low-income workers were young and a vast majority of them were unmarried and full of energy. “So it must be made sure that they are engaged socially,” she said.
It was important, therefore, to provide them entertainment and sporting facilities, particularly during the weekends. “Unfortunately, what we have in the Industrial Area are only exchange houses and grocery stores. There are hardly any entertainment facilities.”
“Where do these workers go in their free time? During the weekends their entry to public parks, malls and the hypermarkets is restricted, so where do you think they could go during the weekends?”
National sports clubs should build stadiums in areas where low-income workers live, and engage them in sporting activities to channelise their energy to productive avenues. “That would also help us hunt for sporting talent from among them,” Al Ghanem said.
Unfortunately, low-income workers are not part of the National Strategy for Social Security (2011-16), which is part of Qatar National Vision 2030, she said. “Isolating these large sections of our population can make them vulnerable to crime. They can be a challenge to social security.”
This section of population feels socially marginalised, so there is a need to make them feel that they are part of the community and the social mainstream. “They should not be allowed to drift away to the social fringes,” Al Ghanem said.
Community police, charitable bodies and the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs should come forward and make sure that they include this group in their gamut of activities, she said.
“If nothing, events can be organised in the areas they live in so as to keep them engaged in socially productive activities,” said the sociologist. “They need to feel secure. We must treat them like any other organ of our society.”
The government has shifted these workers from residential areas to the Industrial Area, so it must also provide the necessary entertainment and sporting facilities to them, Al Ghanem added.