Workers are seen at a construction site in Doha on November 16, 2014. AFP Photo
Workers are seen at a construction site in Doha on November 16, 2014. AFP Photo

Qatar under fresh scrutiny over forced labour allegations



NANTERRE, FRANCE // French prosecutors said on Saturday they had opened a preliminary probe into a lobby group’s claims that construction giant Vinci is using forced labour on building projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The investigation, which began about a two weeks ago, aims to verify allegations — denied by the French construction group — that have been made by the non-governmental group Sherpa, prosecutor Catherine Denis said.

A wider probe involving investigations in Qatar could be subsequently opened if found warranted, she added.

Sherpa has filed a claim in a French court against Vinci and its Qatari subsidiary QDVC for “forced labour”, “servitude” and “concealment”.

Vinci has denied all the allegations, and has filed a defamation claim in Paris against Sherpa.

“The on-site investigations found the use by these companies of various threats to force vulnerable people into scandalous working and living conditions for a paltry salary,” the NGO had said.

The NGO claimed that “passports were confiscated by the company and workers were threatened if they claimed their right to better working conditions or housing, if they wished to resign or change employer”.

Qatar gave undertakings last year to improve workplace safety, housing, and pay and conditions for its huge expatriate workforce after world football governing body Fifa came under huge pressure from rights groups to review its decision to award the emirate the 2022 World Cup.

* Agence France-Presse

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

RESULTS

Dubai Kahayla Classic – Group 1 (PA) $750,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Deryan, Ioritz Mendizabal (jockey), Didier Guillemin (trainer).
Godolphin Mile – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Secret Ambition, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar
Dubai Gold Cup – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (Turf) 3,200m
Winner: Subjectivist, Joe Fanning, Mark Johnston
Al Quoz Sprint – Group 1 (TB) $1million (T) 1,200m
Winner: Extravagant Kid, Ryan Moore, Brendan Walsh
UAE Derby – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (D) 1,900m
Winner: Rebel’s Romance, William Buick, Charlie Appleby
Dubai Golden Shaheen – Group 1 (TB) $1.5million (D) 1,200m
Winner: Zenden, Antonio Fresu, Carlos David
Dubai Turf – Group 1 (TB) $4million (T) 1,800m
Winner: Lord North, Frankie Dettori, John Gosden
Dubai Sheema Classic – Group 1 (TB) $5million (T) 2,410m
Winner: Mishriff, John Egan, John Gosden

Turkish Ladies

Various artists, Sony Music Turkey 

How to play the stock market recovery in 2021?

If you are looking to build your long-term wealth in 2021 and beyond, the stock market is still the best place to do it as equities powered on despite the pandemic.

Investing in individual stocks is not for everyone and most private investors should stick to mutual funds and ETFs, but there are some thrilling opportunities for those who understand the risks.

Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, says the 20 best-performing US and European stocks have delivered an average return year-to-date of 148 per cent, measured in local currency terms.

Online marketplace Etsy was the best performer with a return of 330.6 per cent, followed by communications software company Sinch (315.4 per cent), online supermarket HelloFresh (232.8 per cent) and fuel cells specialist NEL (191.7 per cent).

Mr Garnry says digital companies benefited from the lockdown, while green energy firms flew as efforts to combat climate change were ramped up, helped in part by the European Union’s green deal. 

Electric car company Tesla would be on the list if it had been part of the S&P 500 Index, but it only joined on December 21. “Tesla has become one of the most valuable companies in the world this year as demand for electric vehicles has grown dramatically,” Mr Garnry says.

By contrast, the 20 worst-performing European stocks fell 54 per cent on average, with European banks hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic, while cruise liners and airline stocks suffered due to travel restrictions.

As demand for energy fell, the oil and gas industry had a tough year, too.

Mr Garnry says the biggest story this year was the “absolute crunch” in so-called value stocks, companies that trade at low valuations compared to their earnings and growth potential.

He says they are “heavily tilted towards financials, miners, energy, utilities and industrials, which have all been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic”. “The last year saw these cheap stocks become cheaper and expensive stocks have become more expensive.” 

This has triggered excited talk about the “great value rotation” but Mr Garnry remains sceptical. “We need to see a breakout of interest rates combined with higher inflation before we join the crowd.”

Always remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Last year’s winners often turn out to be this year’s losers, and vice-versa.

T10 Cricket League
Sharjah Cricket Stadium
December 14- 17
6pm, Opening ceremony, followed by:
Bengal Tigers v Kerala Kings 
Maratha Arabians v Pakhtoons
Tickets available online at q-tickets.com/t10

GULF MEN'S LEAGUE

Pool A Dubai Hurricanes, Bahrain, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Tigers 2

Pool B Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Jebel Ali Dragons, Dubai Knights Eagles, Dubai Tigers

 

Opening fixtures

Thursday, December 5

6.40pm, Pitch 8, Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Dubai Knights Eagles

7pm, Pitch 2, Jebel Ali Dragons v Dubai Tigers

7pm, Pitch 4, Dubai Hurricanes v Dubai Exiles

7pm, Pitch 5, Bahrain v Dubai Eagles 2

 

Recent winners

2018 Dubai Hurricanes

2017 Dubai Exiles

2016 Abu Dhabi Harlequins

2015 Abu Dhabi Harlequins

2014 Abu Dhabi Harlequins

'Champions'

Director: Manuel Calvo
Stars: Yassir Al Saggaf and Fatima Al Banawi
Rating: 2/5
 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Alaan
Started: 2021
Based: Dubai
Founders: Parthi Duraisamy and Karun Kurien
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: $7 million raised in total — $2.5 million in a seed round and $4.5 million in a pre-series A round

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)