Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Qataris don't work? Data show that claim isn't true

The statement

"Qataris don't really work."

Jeremy Schaap, ESPN host, May 28 on MSNBC

The ruling

Four years ago, Qatar emerged triumphant when the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, better known as FIFA, voted to hold the 2022 World Cup in the oil- and gas-rich emirate. But controversy followed almost as soon as the decision was announced. Qatar's treatment of foreign workers has come into the spotlight.

ESPN host Jeremy Schaap went to Doha to investigate allegations that laborers from India, Nepal and elsewhere were toiling in brutal heat, dying in accidents and locked into jobs with no way to get back home because their passports had been confiscated.

"We're talking about a country that can afford to do better," Schaap said on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes. Schaap noted that, per capita, Qatar is the richest nation in the world.

"Qataris don't really work. They don't have to work," Schaap said, claiming that the Qatari government offers generous benefits for the unemployed.

We asked Schaap to clarify. In his response, he dialed down his rhetoric.

"I should have said as laborers on construction sites," Schaap told PunditFact. He added that 94 percent of those workers are foreign — a fact that came up during his MSNBC interview. This led to a further qualification of the more sweeping statement he made on the air.

"It's not quite 'no Qataris,' " he said.

Indeed, official statistics show that most Qataris age 15 and older are employed. According to the CIA's World Factbook, the country has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the world, about 0.3 percent.

According to the latest figures from Qatar's government, a total of 82,000 Qataris are working, out of a total population estimated at 278,000. (Oddly, the government doesn't provide population data by nationality.) That represents 68 percent of men over the age of 15 and 35 percent of women. A large fraction of women are listed as "homemakers" and thus not considered employed. The most common job for men is clerk. The most common job for women is professional.

Schaap does have a point that the government takes good care of its citizens. In 2008, nearly 90 percent of Qataris worked in public-sector jobs. A huge factor here is the state-owned petroleum industry.

The country has more than 1.25 million foreign workers. About 700,000 of them are men working in trades or industrial facilities.

We rate the claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PunditFact.com.

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