Labour immigration and labour markets in the GCC countries: national patterns and trends

Using the latest statistical data from six GCC states and recent publications of the GCC Secretariat, a detailed profile is presented of immigration and employment across the region. Evaluation is made of the available data sources (listed in the appendix) and the actual extent of immigrant presence in both population and labour market is critically examined. Employment according to public/private sector, and also for fifteen economic sectors, is shown for each country (where available) by citizenship type and gender. Previously unpublished indicators, such as unemployment and participation rates, are calculated where possible by citizenship type, gender and age groups; a few countries provide data on actual nationalities or regional groupings of foreign employees, and these are reproduced here. Previously neglected issues that receive some attention are foreign births, family presence, foreign schoolchildren and duration of residence (the latter available only for the UAE). The emergence of the kafala system is examined in historical context; in particular, emphasis is placed on its role in promoting irregularities in the migration, residence and employment of foreigners across the GCC. Trends in government policies are described, including the recent and significant doubts in some countries about the ability of the kafala system to produce satisfactory outcomes. Some attention is paid to the important policies of nationalization’ of GCC labour markets: a conceptual categorization of such policies is made, according to five different policy objectives. Using both the broad and more detailed sectoral employment data previously presented, evaluation is then made of the degree of success of each country’s initiatives in this area. The paper concludes with an exposition of the commonalities and differences across the GCC in managing their labour markets and immigration. The structural specificities of each country are outlined, along with tentative prognoses of their future needs for immigrant workers.
Year 2011

Taxonomy Associations

Migration processes
Migration consequences (for migrants, sending and receiving countries)
Migration governance
Cross-cutting topics in migration research
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