Saturday, March 18, 2006

Breech of Trust

(my husband wrote this on his blog, but since it applies to me as well, I just copied it).

As much as we have enjoyed our stay here in Qatar, it seems that we may be leaving soon. We’ve had a dispute with our employer over electricity. When we originally contracted to come to Qatar two years ago, we were promised no electric bills (that was part of our contract). It seems that they have unilaterally decided not to pay for that anymore… which is fine, but for the fact that they are breaking their agreement with us.The amount of money isn’t huge, it’s about 1000 rials per month, but the point is that it is something that they agreed to pay for, and it amounts to a pay cut for us. If they can cavalierly ignore this part of their promise to us, then likewise they can ignore any other part of the contract.

It’s a matter of honor at this point. We won’t work for those who don’t honor the contracts that they make.

Holy Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 177:

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or west;
but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book,
and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves;
to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.”

We have tried to negotiate this, and we are willing to be flexible with it, ie accept a nominal pay raise that would approximate the electric bill, or receive some other benefit of comparable value, but to no avail. They refused and said that if we don’t like it, we can leave Qatar.Unlike most, we didn’t come here for the money, in fact we made quite a bit more money in the US than we make here, but that’s fine… we are quite satisfied with that, and agreed to it. We don’t really care much about money per se. What this issue brings up is more about trust than money. If an employee cannot trust his employer to honor his part of the contract (and vice versa), morale will suffer and trust erode.

As Muslims we expect those that we work for to be honorable, and failing that, we will find opportunities elsewhere.As with most things here, there is probably more to this story than we are aware of. The employer has passed it off as a decision from the Ministry, something that they have no control over… but the fact still remains that they are no longer paying for something that they agreed to pay for.

Qatar has a lot of potential. I think that His Highness the Amir in particular is a wonderful leader. He is probably the most enlightened head of state in the Islamic world, and they are doing a lot of things right here, which is one of the reasons that we chose to come here in the first place. Qatar is becoming one of the planet's greatest success stories, and could eventually become instrumental in helping to restore Islamic culture and civilization to its former heights. But on the other hand, if Qatar loses sight of the needs of the people who are helping to build this place, and if it loses their goodwill and confidence, the task of cultivating a prosperous, thriving, and enlightened society may well prove impossible.

In Islam we generally don’t speak of things that are negative unless the situation is quite serious. In keeping with this, I rarely mention things that may be bad or difficult. Yet this situation crosses the line, as a pledge has been broken.

While I have been a strong advocate of Qatar in the past, in light of this breech of trust, it is with deep regret that I say that I can no longer recommend Qatar as a place that ex-patriates should seek employment, or as a place to which Muslims should make hijrah.

In any case, we’re not sure what we’re going to do next, international moves take time, but expect (Rockin' Hejabi) to relocate in the coming months. We have short-listed the UAE, Kuwait and New Zealand so far!

Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Mutaffifin (Defrauding, The Cheats, Cheating) 1-12:

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.Woe to those that deal in fraud,
Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure,
But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.
Do they not think that they will be called to account?
On a Mighty Day,
A Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?
Nay! Surely the record of the wicked is (preserved) in Sijjin*.
And what will explain to thee what Sijjin is?
There is) a Register (fully) inscribed.
Woe, that Day, to those that deny
Those that deny the Day of Judgment.
And none can deny it but the Transgressor beyond bounds, the Sinner!

* from the noun “sijn” meaning “prison”, the term Sijjin here refers to something lasting and inescapable.


Nzingha said...

ok so try Saudi :) Saad hospital might be a go for both of you. And they just renovated a huge nice compound.

anyway it goes inshallah things will be better for you. We plan but Allah plans better.

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Qatar Cat said...

I am so sorry to hear that... and you are absolutely right. 1000 QAR is not a huge amount, but trust has no price, and once it isn't there, it just isn't there.

Like you, we came here for the experience of living in another culture, and we were better off financially back home. And just like you, I wouldn't think twice of relocating should something like that occur. I sincerely wish you all the best. I am not sure how much better the situation is in any of the three countries you mentioned, so I guess it would be worth your while to check thoroughly before you make a decision. And of course, trust is all good, but make sure every thing that is promised to you is in the contract, in writing. As a lawyer, I can tell you that this is the only way you can get what you want in this part of the world.

All the best!

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Dude! Qatar Cat, I DID write it on my contract! I added the "no responsibility for water or electricity," signed my name and initials and dated the sucker! They aren't honoring it and they don't care.
The thing is, even if we win this battle, we have solid reason to believe we're being targeted by a guy in administration. So once this is fixed, it'll be something else!
Corruption, corruption, everywhere.