Voices from Abroad

Kinni Shah (MBA ‘19), Stern Solutions Qatar Project, Day 4 Travel blog

Kinni Shah
In fall 2018, NYU Stern MBA student Kinni Shah (MBA ‘19) traveled to Qatar as part of a Stern Solutions experiential learning project conducted in partnership with the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and the Center’s Research Scholar David Segall. This is an excerpt from Kinni’s travel blog.
With a packed schedule, we started the day at 8am with a meeting at an international organization that deals with labor. Large international organizations have always fascinated me and their work at both the government and business level has been admirable. The meeting was a good way to get the organization’s take on our project and direction. We also had one of our most important meetings with an executive from the construction company who was our point person for the recruitment drive. Speaking with him gave us a good insight into the drive, provided me with some further clarity on the company’s decision making process and enumerated the benefits of the drive at the firm level.

The afternoon was reserved for more worker interviews where our team went on current construction sites of the construction company to interview 18 workers in total. It was intriguing to see the actual size of these sites in person and planning process on how the project team would deliver the project in time. The worker interviews, again, were heartwarming. It was encouraging to see them share their experiences and plight with little hesitation. However, it was also sad to hear some of their background stories. For example, one worker was threatened to have his passport ripped if he did not pay money to come to Qatar, while another decided to come back to work in the the Middle East after 25 years for personal reasons. What was admirable about them was their aspiration to do good work and earn a decent living for themselves and their families – unlike current perceptions they were not shy of hard work and neither did they care about the amount they might have had to pay to come do their job, they just wanted to keep working, hopefully progress and make their families proud. Listening to their perspectives and acting as a translator was an enriching experience and I felt lucky to have gotten the opportunity.

An unusual adventure from today was our encounter with a sandstorm! When we were leaving from one of the construction sites, we witnessed a crazy sandstorm that surrounded the city and affected visibility. As someone who has never been in a sandstorm before it was exciting to see the effects of the storm (which lasted for not more than 2 hours) and the view from our hotel room. The sandstorm definitely completed my experience in Qatar in a way!

Learn more about the project here