The art of darkness

Or: How to trick the world into believing it can stop worrying about Qatar’s migrant workers.

Written by Håvard Melnæs
Photography Faiz Abu Rmeleh

First published on 13 September 2018.

14 kilometres outside Doha, in a flat and hazy desert landscape, lies Labor City, one of Qatar 2022’s prestige projects. Only a few years ago, there was hardly anything but sand here; now, a new "city" that that can host up to 100 000 people sits on a roughly 1 000 000 square metres large patch of land. On November 1st, 2015, when prime minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani cut the ribbons at Labor City’s official opening, the place was teeming with VIPs. We’ve been in Qatar for nine days and already tried to visit the "city" twice, but on each occasion expertly trained security guards stopped us at the check points along the road. The CCTV cameras are strategically placed and omnipresent. Anyone who wishes to enter the city must display approved access documentation as well as personal ID. On the home page of Barwa, Labor City’s main contractor, we can read that “Labor City accommodation is far from a typical worker’s residence after a long day at work. It is a true testimony to Qatar’s belief in respecting, valuing, and improving the quality of workers’ life." Several members of the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy (SCDL), the organisation responsible for Qatar 2022, have boasted about Labor City and encouraged us to go there.


Once again, we are stopped by security guards, but this time we’ve got papers with official stamps...

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