Qatar isolation a ‘headache’ for recruiters and contractors

Recruiters are hoping for a swift resolution to the diplomatic crisis in the Middle East that has seen several states cut ties with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it had severed diplomatic and consular relations with its neighbour, which is due to host the World Cup in 2022, over alleged terrorist links.

The UK government yesterday warned that with Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt also closing their borders with Qatar, there would be “severe disruption of movement”.

David Leyshon, chairman of Surrey-based technical recruiter CBSbutler, told Recruiter the closure of air, sea and land routes would be a “real headache” for local and international employers.

“Critical building materials come in by ship and land, and the loss of skilled workers from Saudi, Egypt and the UAE has serious implications for engineering, construction and healthcare,” he warned.

“Qatar has about 180,000 Egyptian nationals. With the World Cup only five years away, this couldn’t be worse timing. Our expat workers are not unduly affected currently, apart from an additional few hours’ flight time, but future hiring and continuity of employment will undoubtedly suffer if the situation isn’t resolved quickly.”

Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) director of operations Samantha Hurley said the body was keeping a close eye on developments in the region.

“While on the surface, the fact that a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar may seem extremely worrying, recruiters with experience in operating in the region do not yet seem unduly concerned,” she said. “Consequently, the members we have spoken to are advising contractors to sit tight and await further details.”

Hurley said a diplomatic storm in 2014 was resolved within months. “Many are hopeful that this current situation will be resolved quickly,” she added. “However, if it isn’t, or if Qatar retaliates, the situation will potentially be more concerning and will obviously have to be reassessed.”

The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed “deep regret” about the decision to cut ties, and called it “unjustified and based on unfounded allegations”. It added that the measures would “not affect the normal course of life of citizens and residents of the state”.

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