Twitter Q&A: Mark Lobel answers your questions on Qatar

The BBC's Middle East business correspondent Mark Lobel went to Qatar to report on 2022 World Cup migrant construction workers at the invitation of the government, but was arrested and spent two nights in prison.

Working and housing conditions of migrant workers constructing new buildings in Qatar ahead of the World Cup have been heavily criticised.

You sent your questions to Mark on the issue using the hashtag #AskBBCMark and he answered a selection of them on his Twitter account on Tuesday 19 May.

Here is an edited summary of the Q&A session:

Question from @mglaura: Are workers free to leave their jobs when they want?

Mark answers: To leave the country or change jobs workers need their employer's permission. It can lead to an unequal power dynamic.

Question from @MBalan101: What is the workers' number one need or demand as a group?

Mark answers: There are lots! No. 1 is probably to get paid what they were promised and on time. Next, to live in good conditions and eat the food they're used to eating.

Question from Ghising via Facebook: Why doesn't Qatar hire these workers directly instead of through contractors? How much are they paid on average?

Mark answers: Qatar welcomes in multi-national companies and uses local businesses to build ambitious projects quickly & professionally. Workers I met were paid a basic salary of between $170 to $300 a month. That could go up by $150 a month with overtime.

Question from Dave via email: Why focus on Qatar? I lived in the UAE. Conditions for migrant workers are worse there.

Mark answers: I reported from Dubai on a rare workers' protest there last month and asked a very influential CEO about workers' rights.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Qatar has been criticised over abuse of migrant workers

Question from Alex via email: We know labourers are living in appalling conditions, but will it make a difference as to who will host the World Cup in 2022?

Mark answers: No. Qatar will definitely host that World Cup. Fifa's influence means some workers building stadiums already live in good conditions.

Question from @GideonSappor: Do you think we are unfairly looking at this through Western eyes?

Mark answers: Qatar has introduced laws to fix issues it sees as wrong. For example, bad housing and job controls. We're asking what is being enforced.

Question from: @Allycrighton: Would you feel secure returning to Qatar to report on this, or any other, controversial issue?

Mark answers: I really hope to go back. It's a great country. I hope my experience and the German TV crew's are the exception not the rule.

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