The West Bay District in Doha. Despite the uncertain economic climate, following the global financial crisis Doha Bank says it has been able to make headway in profits and increased returns on assets and equity in the first nine months of this year. Image Credit: Rex Features

Manama: Qatari nationals want the sponsorship rules to be made more stringent, even though they acknowledge the role of foreign workers in Qatar's development, a survey has revealed.

According to the survey, part of a series of studies conducted on major local social and economic issues by Qatar University's Social and Economic Research Institute (Seri), 47 per cent of the respondents said they would like the sponsorship (kafala) system to be tightened.

"This is not a decision; this is what the people think. What policy-makers think is different because of different perspectives. But it is also good to see what people would think if the government relaxed the immigration rules," Darwish Al Emadi, Seri director, said.

"This could be actually what other GCC citizens also feel about the sponsorship system although their countries have relaxed the immigration policy," he said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

A vast majority (89 per cent of the respondents) covered by the survey said they believe that the hard work and talents of foreign workers have contributed to the development of Qatar.

According to the survey, 82.3 per cent of the respondents said they think that foreign workers make the country open to new cultures. However, 95 per cent felt that expatriates increased traffic congestion and 75 per cent said they put a strain on the country's health services.

Some 77 per cent of the respondents said they believe there are too many expatriates and migrant workers in the country, and 62 per cent said they think the number of labour migrants allowed in the country each year should be decreased. According to 58 per cent of the surveyed, foreign workers weaken the country and take away its resources.

"The Omnibus: A Survey of Life in Qatar", the first-ever by Seri, featured a random sample of 2,139 people, including 768 expatriate white-collar workers and 682 blue-collar workers. It was conducted between May 18 and June 20, 2010 through face-to-face data collection. Expatriate domestic hands were not covered.

Qataris and expatriates gave high marks for the quality of life in the country. All respondents were asked to rate Qatar as a place to live using a 10-point scale where one represented the worst possible place to live and 10 the best possible place to live.

"Qatari nationals gave the highest rating (8.7) to the quality of life, followed by white-collar expatriates (7.9) and blue-collar workers (7.6)," Aboulaye Diop, Seri's head of research, said, Gulf Times reported.

Meanwhile, 68.2% of Qataris described the situation in the country as excellent whereas 27.5% considered it good.