A new research project exploring the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of migrants in Qatar is being led by Hasan Mahmud, assistant professor at Northwestern Qatar, with the help of three students from the university.
Mahmud’s work deals primarily with migrants in Qatar while his teaching and research addresses broader topics in sociological theory, identity politics, global ethnography, and international migration and development.
This latest project, funded by the Undergraduate Research Experience Programme of the Qatar National Research Fund, contributes to this literature by adding empirical emphasis to the study of migrant workers in the country.
According to Mahmud, the aim of the project, which is titled “Surviving the Covid-19 Pandemic: Socio-cultural impacts of coronavirus outbreak on migrants in Qatar,” is to highlight the need to recognise migrants “as both the victims and integral part of any effective public health response.”
While everybody is vulnerable to the pandemic, “migrants are the most affected segment of the population due to their involvement in the essential sectors of the economy,” Mahmud said, explaining that their overwhelming participation in the healthcare, food, entertainment, and transportation industries, not just in Qatar but in most cities of the world, is a well-known fact.
“This country owes a great deal to the migrant population,” said Princess Collado, one of the three student researchers in the project. Like the other participating students,
To build a knowledge base on this subject matter, and promote public safety and self-reliance among this community in Qatar, the project is guided by several objectives, including identifying “the critical service sectors” in which these migrants are situated and examining the extent to which they are affected by the lockdown measures that were put in place by local authorities.
Other objectives include investigating “the strategies migrants take to cope with the added health risks and public wellness measures” as well as the “social and cultural challenges” they encounter in their line of work. Knowledge about these factors, Mahmud said, will allow the team to “offer ideas about potential measures to improve their services as well their safety so that they can, in turn, enhance the safety and health of everyone else in Qatar.”
Given the nature of the labour market, however, “access to migrants is a major challenge.”
To navigate these hurdles, Mahmud explained, “we will approach migrants from three countries with researchers from co-ethnic/national backgrounds, who share their culture and language.”
To this end, student researchers will get theoretical training and practical application of survey and textual analysis, in-depth interviews, transcribing interviews and analysis of qualitative data.
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