Workshop 1 / GRM 2023
Recent Labour and Migration Reforms and Policies in the Gulf: Impact on Economies and Societies

The aim of the workshop is to analyse the labour- and migration-related reforms introduced since 2010 in the six GCC States and assess their implications and outcomes (or lack thereof) on Gulf nationals, on foreign residents (workers and their families), on Gulf societies, and economies. The workshop will also address the impact of these policies on migrants’ countries of origin.

The aim of the workshop is to analyse the labour- and migration-related reforms introduced since 2010 in the six GCC States and assess their implications and outcomes (or lack thereof) on Gulf nationals, on foreign residents (workers and their families), on Gulf societies, and economies. The workshop will also address the impact of these policies on migrants’ countries of origin.

Gulf States’ economic and social reform masterplans (e.g., UAE Vision 2021, Qatar National Vision 2030, Saudi Vision 2030, Kuwait Vision 2035) stress the urgency of socio-economic reforms, to lower the dependency of the region's citizens on public spending, to diminish dependency on hydrocarbon revenues, and reduce reliance on foreign labour.

To address the latter, Gulf States enacted major reforms labour, employment, and migration policies during the past decade, along two lines. First, replacing foreign workers, who largely outnumber nationals on Gulf labour markets, with nationals. Labour nationalisation policies seek to increase opportunities for citizens in GCC countries’ private sectors, and alleviate unemployment among young nationals, especially women. Second, controlling foreign workers and residents’ numbers and profiles more tightly: these measures are multipronged, and range from selecting specific foreign skilled workers over large numbers of low-skilled workers, to aiming at correcting the perceived “demographic imbalance”, or demographic domination of foreign residents over citizens, that characterises four of the six GCC countries.  




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Workshop

Directors


Nasra

M. Shah

Professor of Migration and Development at the Lahore School of Economics, Scientific Director, Gulf Labour Markets, Migration, and Population (GLMM) Programme -
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Françoise

De Bel-Air

Senior Fellow
Gulf Labour Markets, Migration, and Population (GLMM) Programme


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