Controversy surrounds the questionable award of the 2022 soccer World Cup to Qatar. FIFA, the sport’s governing body, still faces scrutiny over how the tiny Gulf state managed to triumph over what seemed to many to be far more realistic bids; allegations of corruption are rife.
But beyond reports of sordid backroom dealings, Qatar’s World Cup bid is tainted by a darker reality: the deaths of hundreds of migrant workers enlisted in the construction of the country’s stadiums and skyscrapers.
A report commissioned by the Qatari government found that almost 1,000 migrants had died on building sites in 2012 and 2013. The bulk of the workers were South Asian, with the majority from Nepal. Many workers perished from cardiac arrest and workplace accidents and falls; some others committed suicide.
The deaths illustrate the terrible working conditions migrants face in the petro-rich states of the Gulf, which are dependent on foreign labor.
To commemorate these fallen migrant workers, Paris-based architecture collective 1Week1Project offered a design for a monument in their honor. It would be comprised of hundreds of rectangular stones, each representing one fatality, and would move up in a conical spiral as the numbers of the dead grow. Affixed at the top of the structure is a crane, an emblem both of the hubris of these city-states, and the tragedy that befell those who died to buttress it.
“This structure offers Nepalese and Indian families as well as families of other nationalities a site for mourning removed from Qatar’s cities and skyscrapers,” says a note accompanying the designs on 1Week1Project’s site. “The project has a multitude of [entry points] for visiting, on a basis of four modules per floor and two staircases per module. The cranes remain positioned in altitude until 2022.”
The report commissioned by the Qatari government pushes for reforms to the country’s much-criticized guest worker system, which human rights campaigners liken to a kind of indentured servitude.
1Week1Project says that if the current death rate is not averted, its proposed monument could reach one-mile in length, dwarfing the gleaming skyscrapers of Qatar’s capital Doha. Of course, unlike those buildings or Qatar’s planned World Cup stadiums, this is a structure that likely never will be built.