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 percent 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 percent 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 percent of the respondents said they think that foreign workers make the country open to new cultures. However, 95% felt that expatriates increased traffic congestion and 75% said they put a strain on the country’s health services.

Some 77 percent of the respondents said they believe there are too many expatriates and migrant workers in the country, and 62 percent said they think the number of labour migrants allowed in the country each year should be decreased. According to 58 percent 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 SESRI, 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 1 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, SESRI’s head of research, said, Gulf Times reported.

Despite numerous news reports about the current economic crisis and the financial difficulties around the world, 68.2% of Qataris described the situation in the country as excellent whereas 27.5% considered it good.