Friday, October 5, 2007

Millions of expats could be kicked out of Gulf

Millions of expatriate workers could face being kicked out of the Gulf if plans proposed by Bahrain are passed at the next GCC summit in December.

The cap could force many of the 13 million or so expatriates currently living in the GCC to return home, a significant proportion of whom have brought up families in the Gulf and now consider the region their home.

The majority of foreign manpower in the region comes from different cultural and social backgrounds that cannot assimilate or adapt to the local cultures.

Expatriates account for around 80% of the population of Qatar and the UAE, while in Kuwait it is roughly 60% and in Bahrain it is about 40%, Saudi Arabia – which accounts for around 75% of the total GCC population - and Oman have the lowest number of foreign workers relative to the size of their populations, standing at around 33% and 25% respectively.

However, the move being advocated by Bahrain is the most extreme measure yet proposed to tackle the looming unemployment crisis among nationals.

Employment just like any other economic function is market driven on the bases of supply and demand in the job market. It's true today GCC nationals do have the luxury of choosing the type jobs they want considering that there is very large expat percentage of the workforce in each country but the reality is they need to get the necessary skills and earn practical experience with on the job training and know how.

One should remind him that those countries, which encourage immigration of people on permanent basis, do not loose their culture by getting people of different nationalities and culture. I think the Arabs are putting too much importance on their culture and are scared that the foreign influence will erode their culture. Is Arab culture base so weak that it can get eroded by the cultures of the foreigners. Hope common sense prevails amongst the GCC ministers and the suggestion of the Bahrain labour minister is rejected.


Anonymous said...

Al Alawi's comments have to be understood within the context the Gulf's operating - and in fact they show far sightedness, not the usual Gulf attitude of sweeping problems under the carpet.

He's saying that the GCC's going to have to come to terms with the fact its going to have to meet international labour & migration standards soon. In order to integrate into the global economy the Gulf's going to have to start to meet global standards - for instance free trade agreements with the US contain provisions about trade union rights and other workers protections. Other international treaties are similar. This all means giving rights to resident foreigners - citizenship, and for those with parliaments (like Bahrain and Kuwait) political rights.

What Al Alawi's calling for GCC countries to do is to pause to think the issues through. Its disappointing that the reaction both among local business leaders and expats is to start trying to close down the debate before its even started.

chase said...

yes i agree.
if they are so scared that their culture could be eroded. that only mean that its not deeply rooted.
but that is just my opinion.
anyway, maybe they got something in their mind other than that.