Kathmandu, October 7 Though Qatar is embroiled in a diplomatic rift with its neighbouring countries — Saudi Arabia-led alliance — for the past couple of months and there were talks of an economic downturn there, it was the destination of first choice among Nepali migrant workers in last fiscal year 2016-17. In the last fiscal, 125,892 Nepali workers opted for Qatar, which is 31.6 per cent of the total migrant workers who left the country in search of jobs in the international market. In fiscal 2015-16, a total of 129,038 migrant workers had gone to Qatar for employment, which was 30.8 per cent of the total migrant workers that year. Similarly, the Gulf country had taken in 124,368 workers from Nepal in fiscal 2014-15 that was 24.2 per cent of the total migrant workers. Saudi Arabia, which was the top destination in fiscal year 2015-16, slipped to the third position with 19.3 per cent or 76,884 workers going to that country in the last fiscal. The country had received 138,529 or 33.1 per cent of total Nepali migrant workers in fiscal 2015-16. Similarly, Malaysia that had received 39.5 per cent or 202,828 Nepali migrant workers in fiscal 2014-15, attracted only 24.7 per cent or 98,437 workers from Nepal in the last fiscal. Experts have said that the diplomatic rift has not significantly affected the labour market of Qatar. “It was predicted that the Qatari labour market would crash due to the diplomatic rift between the neighbouring countries but now we see that there hasn’t been much of an impact,” said Ganesh Gurung, foreign employment expert. However, the growth rate of migrant workers going to Qatar in the last fiscal year is slower than in the previous years. “We were expecting the demand to grow substantially till the country hosted the FIFA World Cup 2022, however, it slowed down last year,” Gurung said. According to him, international companies that are involved in construction works in Qatar seek migrant workers from countries like Nepal. Gurung also said that due to an economic crisis in Saudi Arabia, it has affected the labour market in that country. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Maldives and Yemen have cut all diplomatic ties and closed their air space for Qatar since the first week of June. After this standoff in the major destination of workers, it was predicted that countries like Nepal that have been sending their youths for employment would lose job opportunities there. Earlier, just after the political turmoil in the Gulf started, the government had sent a study team to Qatar, which said that the labour market in Qatar would not be affected due to the situation and Nepali migrant workers who were working in Qatar were safe.