Qatar's labor and social affairs minister said this week that he was "hopeful" that reforms to the kafala system would be implemented by the end of the year.

Used to monitor and control migrants working in jobs such as construction or domestic labor, the kafala system has received much criticism for its human rights abuses and has even been referred to as "modern-day slavery" by some. It exists in one form or another in Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Due to its plan to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has been under intense international pressure to reform its existing kafala system. Reports of construction workers dying in preparation for the large-scale international event have plagued the small nation.

“I hope it will be prior to the year end. We discussed it, our stakeholders have looked at it… Now it is on track. I am 90 percent hopeful or believe that it will be (brought in before the year end)," Abdullah bin Saleh Al Khulaifi said according to the AFP .

“It is not I who says it. It is our vision, our strategy… The new Qatar will no longer be having the kafala system. It will all be contractual agreements between employees and employer.

“We are not hiding from our problems here in Qatar, we are facing them."

At a press conference last May, Qatar authorities stated the system would be reformed soon and promised changes that would make it easier for migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country. Under the current system, workers are normally forced to turn over their passports to their employers and are forbidden from changing jobs without the employer's consent.

Qatar's Chamber of Commerce also expressed support for the changes in October, saying it was on board as long as the reforms protected business owners as well as workers. However, last month the labor minister also stated that no specific timetable was in place to implement the suggested changes.

Currently, the reforms must be approved by the country's Advisory Council and then the emir can sign them into law. Still, even the suggested reforms have fallen short of initial promises and have been criticized by rights groups.

“It’s another form of kafala with a different name, admittedly less restrictive but with many of the same problems," Amnesty International researcher Mustafa Qadri told AFP .

The new system would not get rid of exit permits and the no-objection certificates that are currently required from employers. Workers could still be blocked from leaving the country by their foreign sponsors and workers who sign open-ended contracts would not freely be allowed to change jobs for at least five years.

Although Qatar has received a great deal of criticism for its kafala system, other regional countries implement similar forms sponsorship. Numerous Middle Eastern and international NGOs have devoted their efforts to fighting for the rights of migrant laborers within the region.

Let's hope that Qatar follows through on its promised reforms and that other regional countries will follow its example. Its definitely time for some serious changes to be implemented.