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Life In The Middle East VI & VII
It was June 1990 and the destination was in Doha, Qatar. The goal is to work in one of the International Hotels in Doha. There were two Sheraton hotels in Qatar and the destination is to work in one of them. The hotel had 19 floors with one suite room for each floor. The first floor was the accommodation for the Executive Housekeeper and female employees of the hotel. No male employees are allowed to loiter on that floor without valid reason/s. Female employee should be 35 years old and above before they get hired. Employees were recruited from different countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, Philippines, Africa, Europe and other countries not mentioned will be a minority.
Majority of employees whether male or female had spouses or family back home in their own country. Being separated with their family was the most crucial test ever experienced by contract workers. For individual who came in the middle east or gulf countries for the first time, emotional struggle can be devastating. That was the main reason why hotel management did everything they could to give the employees as much as possible more fun and activities. Hotel Management had allocated a spacious room in the staff accommodation called “Games Room”. There were billiard tables, tennis table/set, backgammon, chess, football table game and many others. There were also the basketball courts for those who wants to play basketball and an open field for those who wanted to play football or soccer.
There were activities like half of the employees of the hotel will be on duty and half will be going on a picnic trip on the beach with lots of different varieties of food and game activities and swimming. The schedule will be for two days so that next day the other half of the staff can also go for picnic. This picnic was on schedule when the hotel had low occupancy. Apart from the creation of the games room, the outside activities, there were also presentation of programs for each department. With these programs employees were able to watch the creativeness of their co- employees during the presentation. During Eid Al Fitr and Christmas, employees had sit-down dinner with their families invited to attend in case they have their families in Qatar. Then there will be raffle of gifts given to the employees. On top of these various activities, There will also parties being initiated by the department head. This event is being held every year.
Outside work, activities like catching crabs at low tide had become a hobby for some of the employees. They can catch between 100 to 200 crabs a day. Qatar has a long stretch of beaches. There were activities like barbeque/fish party, swimming and tennis on the beach etc.
Safari desert activities was also fun activities. Tents for all type of purposes were installed in a desert area. There will be tent for food, tent for chatting and games, tent for Arabic or belly dancing and others. The set-up for each tent were all in Arabic style or motif. It was a fantastic experience for people who have not experience the safari desert. These activities helped to lessened emotional struggle or “Home sickness” for not being with their loved ones or families for a year or two.
Contract workers are allowed to go home after two years or a year for individual on management position. And if the contract worker decided to go home before the end of his/her contract he or she had to pay the airline ticket. And if he/she will not return to work then he or she had to pay the hotel for the airline ticket used when he/she came to Qatar. Usually the individual who won’t come back will be those who cannot afford to be separated from their families or spouses. The only challenge a married contract worker had was when he or she gets involve with another person that is when things get complicated.
Like Kuwait, Qatar is also governed by Islamic Laws. Obscene pictures or movie were strictly prohibited in Qatar.
Qatar was a peaceful place to work, stay and live in. If the person is good and the employer issued a release paper, that person will be able to work to another company similar to the previous job. Usually if the company terminated the contract, the contract worker had to be sent back to the country of origin. Most companies in Qatar pay well and once sponsored by a company, medical benefit was also free. There were families in Qatar who have lived there for decades because of the peaceful life in the State. Contract workers liked their job, the people whom they have interacted with, the Qatari’s friendliness and most especially the peacefulness of the country itself.
News came that the hotel contract has been awarded to another hotel group. Employees were asked to continue with the new hotel group of management, and those who do not wish to stay were free to move on.
An Executive Housekeeper transferred to the sister company with only 7 Room Attendants available with 450 rooms was a tough job. Hiring new employees from other countries will take at least four to six months. The Human Resources Manager offered to hire forty (40) laborers whose contract had been cancelled by their employer. Out of 40 persons, only 5 persons can speak English.Grouped them into five groups with one person who can speak English in each group. Trained the five persons who speak English, then those five persons trained the members of his group communicating in their own language. The best among them were paired with the seven room attendants and the rest were assigned to the Public Areas with the Public Area Supervisor.Prior to that, the Public Area Attendants who were there before were already trained by the seven Room Attendants. It was a tough decision to hire employees with communication problem. As days went by they learned basic English being spoken daily. They were all hardworking individuals and after six months there were improvements in their performance. This means the hotel was also rated high based on the result of guest questionnaires.
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