What Happened: Qatar's Cabinet adopted new legislation on Oct. 18 that aims to end the country's restrictive kafala labor laws. The law, which will take effect in January 2020, will no longer require foreign workers to obtain their company's permission to change employers or leave the country. The government also agreed on a law to create a non-discriminatory minimum wage for all foreign workers across all sectors.
Why It Matters: The International Labor Organization has hailed the move in a statement, but uncertainty remains whether Doha will apply the new regulations sufficiently and whether labor abuses will continue. However, the legislation illustrates attempts to increase the competitiveness and flexibility of Qatar's labor market as the country looks to diversify its economy away from oil and gas revenue.
Background: Other countries in the Persian Gulf region have begun slowly reforming their labor laws by moving away from the kafala system. The process, however, has been gradual and will likely continue at a slow pace.
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