(h ps://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD?locations=QA) or more, minimum wages ranged as low as US$200 (h ps://www.gco.gov.qa/en/top-news/adlsa-statement-minimum-wage-noc/) per month. Men were packed into portacabins and decrepit buildings (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.listmanage.com/track/click?u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=f5fc2e5e7c&e=e1b66013f3), six to a room if lucky, hidden behind screens of dust and grime, away from the smart buildings they built and shiny glasses they cleaned. The women were trapped 24/7 in homes that are their workplaces, every movement monitored. It is accepted and normalised without question (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.listmanage.com/track/click?u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=755b7c4078&e=e1b66013f3) that these men and women will leave behind their families in the hopes of building a be er future for themselves. That they may live all their productive life in a strange country, excluded from social security benefits and denied all rights of belonging, is seen as a small price to pay for the supposed fiscal benefits. The fact that the price is too steep (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.list-manage.com/track/click? u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=7131a4bdc7&e=e1b66013f3) is rarely discussed. “Why did able-bodied, productive individuals struggle for food and shelter in some of the richest countries in the world?” #DevMa ers Tweet (h p://twi er.com/share?&text=%22Why%20did%20able-bodied%2C%20productiv e%20individuals%20struggle%20for%20food%20and%20shelter%20in%20some%20of%20the%20rich est%20countries%20in%20the%20world%3F%22%20%23DevMa ers&url=h ps://oecd-developmentma ers.org/2021/01/19/protecting-migrant-workers-in-the-gulf-dont-build-back-be er-over-a-poor-fo undation/) Then came March, and a worldwide upheaval as the COVID-19 pandemic struck nations indiscriminately. The official response across the board (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.listmanage.com/track/click?u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=a2bb2da9b6&e=e1b66013f3)ranged from well-meaning but knee-jerk, to discriminatory and short-sighted. Some of the strictest lockdowns were implemented in the most congested areas of Gulf cities, where migrants live. However, their labour was considered essential, as the process of nation-building could not be paused. A empts to decongest (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.list-manage.com/track/click? u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=66f62150ed&e=e1b66013f3)were hopeful at best, but the majority continued to live in cramped quarters, were bussed into construction sites, and remained vulnerable to this new infection, as they had been to other infections and health perils. The women, hundreds of thousands employed as domestic workers (h ps://mideastyouth.us1.listmanage.com/track/click?u=734d825dbbff4d439f1774712&id=3fd902b36e&e=e1b66013f3), have been invisible at the best of times because their ability to leave home and enjoy an off day or free time has always been at the discretion of their employers. The pandemic guidelines prevented even this thin leeway, with some countries explicitly prohibiting (h ps://twi er.com/MigrantRights/status/1288459739932704768?s=20) domestic workers from socialising, even when their employers were allowed to. Domestic workers, like a lot of other poorlypaid and badly-treated workers, were considered essential workers. With entire families working and studying from home, their workload increased exponentially. They were also exposed to strong chemical cleaning agents without proper protective gear. While their services were essential, even critical, the individual was considered dispensable and replaceable.

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