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GCC employment policies threaten livelihood of 25m expats

March 26, 2019 at 9:49 am

King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (R) attends the closing session of the 37th Leaders Summit by Gulf Cooperation Council member states at Al-Sakhir Palace in Manama, Bahrain on 7 December, 2016 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

Policies pursued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to reduce the number of expatriates and replace them with local citizens over the past few years are increasing pressure on foreign workers, especially as the economic conditions in their home countries are deteriorating.

Experts stressed that government jobs in the GCC have now almost completely been filled by locals and expats have been removed from such jobs, so the localisation policy is now being rolled out into the private sectors.

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According to the latest data, more than 25 million foreigners live in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, representing nearly 50 per cent of the region’s 51 million population.

According to international statistics, foreign employment in Qatar is estimated to represent 91 per cent of the total population, followed by the UAE with 89 per cent, Kuwait at 72.15 per cent and Bahrain with 54 per cent.

Economic expert, Mohammed Ramadan said the job resettlement policies are driven by high unemployment rates among the bloc’s citizens.

Figures released by the Saudi General Authority for Statistics show that 839,200 foreign workers lost their jobs in the public and private sectors during the first nine months of 2018.

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According to the data, the number of foreign employees in Saudi Arabia fell by 8.1 per cent to reach 9.58 million employees at the end of the third quarter of 2018, compared to 10.42 million at the end of 2017.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman.