Qatar provides hope to 3,000 jobless Pinoys in UAE

MANILA, Philippines - Nearly 3,000 Filipino workers retrenched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the global financial meltdown may find some employment in Qatar.

Online news site Khaleej Times reported Thursday that Qatar, visited by President Arroyo recently, has approved the allocation of 120,124 visas for Filipinos for 2009.

"We are prepared to put you in UAE companies that have placed new job orders for 6,656 Filipino workers, which is higher than the number of retrenched workers. Those who qualify for positions offered in Qatar will be given priority to apply," Labor secretary Marianito Roque said.

The report said the retrenched Filipinos are still in the UAE during a one-month grace period to leave the country after their visas were canceled.

Roque said these Filipinos would get preference in selection of recruits for jobs in Qatar.

Roque headed a fact-finding mission to the UAE and other Middle East countries to verify reports that thousands of Filipinos working in the region lost their jobs due to the global crisis.

He said he received the visa allocation document for placement in 22 major companies from his counterpart in Qatar before leaving for the UAE on Monday.

Also, he said that except for the 3,000 Filipinos, the jobs of all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE are safe.

Roque appeared positive after meeting with the Filipino Business Council in Dubai Tuesday night to get first-hand information on the exact number of Filipino workers retrenched by UAE companies due to the global economic crunch.

He also cautioned Filipino workers against indulging in unsubstantiated talks about layoffs that would dent the spirit of other members of the community.

The best thing they could do is to inform the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in Dubai and Abu Dhabi about the exact details of the people who have lost their jobs, he said.

"Then, we can contact them to submit to us their curriculum vitae and if more training is needed, the Department of Labor and Employment is ready to do it so that we can transfer them to other countries. If they want to work back home, we can refer them to the Bureau of Employment, and if they want to start business in the Philippines, we can provide them with the capital," he said.

On the other hand, Roque said the livelihood projects for returning OFWs started with only P250 million (Dh250,000).

"But President Arroyo has increased the fund to P1 billion now to accommodate more workers who want to return from abroad and start their own businesses," he said.