BLOG: Qatar - A Case Study in Global Mobility Solutions Challenges
This opinion piece presents the opinions of the author.
It does not necessarily reflect the views of Rigzone.
Qatar is a wonderful country. I and my company have been here 11 years. In that time, we’ve mobilized thousands of people, supporting them with our global mobility solutions. Like me, they’ve found a welcoming country and a fantastic standard of living.
However, there’s a perception that Qatar is a particularly challenging environment – especially given the current diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. As a result, workers can be nervous about relocating to the region.
They needn’t be though; more often than not, the risks are overblown.
So, what are the mobility challenges? Why are they exaggerated? And how do you address them (because even exaggerated risks must be managed)?
Oil and gas is a hazardous industry, so safety has long been a top priority. This attitude rightly extends beyond the workplace to the countries in which workers live.
Qatar however, has always been a safe country – certainly in my time here. Despite fears and misconceptions, in my experience, those who make the move quickly feel settled and secure. The challenge is more one of countering misunderstanding.
Even if a worker feels safe in moving to Qatar, they may read headlines about recent sanctions from neighboring countries and have doubts about quality of life. What if I get there and the supermarket shelves are empty?
Again, the issue is more one of perception than actual risk to manage. The shelves are full and, though prices may have increased a little, the rhythms of everyday life carry on undisturbed. After all, it’s a rich country with substantial economic reserves.
The biggest real mobility challenge in current-day Qatar? Logistics. Current sanctions mean that the direct flights between Qatar and the UAE or Saudi Arabia are suspended. That has knockon effects on other destinations too – a flight from Bahrain to Qatar which used to take 50 minutes now must go via Kuwait, and can take up to seven-and-a-half hours, potentially including an overnight stay.
That adds logistical hassle and costs when more expensive flights and otherwise unnecessary hotel stays are factored in. That’s before you total up any costs to the business associated with not having people where you need them at the right time – or losing productive days beforehand to travel.
Rumours of insurmountable mobility challenges have been greatly exaggerated, but they do exist. To be able to handle the logistical hurdles thrown up by the recent diplomatic spat at short notice required an expert team, trained to be as responsive as possible. When the air routes closed, our team was able to find alternatives and get people moving again within minutes.
As for misconceptions over safety and quality of life, the only way to correct those is on-the-ground experience. It’s no good sitting in a London office and dispatching workers to far-flung corners of the globe – such assurances can only be so soothing. However, hearing it from someone living there themselves, experiencing the day-to-day: that’s how you assuage fears.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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