02 October, 2007

"Millions of expats could be kicked out of Gulf"

In this Arabian Business article (Oct 1, 2007), Bahrain mentions its new plans. Hopefully it won't be approved in the GCC Summit and hopefully, it won't be adopted by other GCC countries. Seriously, how do they come up with these 'solutions' to the culture erosion?

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 kingdom will put forward a motion...to place a six-year residency cap on all expatriates working in the region in an effort to stop what it sees as the erosion of local culture and to stem soaring unemployment among nationals.

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.

“In some areas of the Gulf, you can’t tell whether you are in an Arab Muslim country or in an Asian district. We can’t call this diversity and no nation on earth could accept the erosion of its culture on its own land,” [said said Bahrain Labour Minister Majeed Al-Alawi].

38 comments:

MD said...

Here's the full article. I wasn't able to link it for some reason and I think it needs a Username/Password to access:

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 kingdom will put forward a motion at the meeting in Doha to place a six-year residency cap on all expatriates working in the region in an effort to stop what it sees as the erosion of local culture and to stem soaring unemployment among nationals.

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,” said Bahrain Labour Minister Majeed Al-Alawi, UAE daily Gulf News reported on Monday.

“In some areas of the Gulf, you can’t tell whether you are in an Arab Muslim country or in an Asian district. We can’t call this diversity and no nation on earth could accept the erosion of its culture on its own land,” he added.

Al-Alawi said he was "optimistic" the proposal will be approved at the summit.

The six countries that make up the GCC – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait – are hugely dependent on foreign workers to drive their booming economies, for everything from manual labour to company executives.

As a result, in many Gulf Arab countries expatriates now significantly outnumber nationals.

According to statistics quoted by newswire AFP, there are around 35 million people living in the GCC, of whom 37% are foreign workers.

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%, according to statistics compiled by Human Rights Watch.

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, Human Rights Watch said.

However, even in Saudi Arabia and Oman the percentage of expatriates that make up the country’s workforce is much higher.

All GGC member states are attempting to reduce their reliance on expatriates, to varying degrees of success, through schemes designed to encourage nationals into the workplace and by setting quotas on the number of nationals a company must employ.

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

The unemployment among Saudis currently stands at 11%, while in Bahrain it is just below 4%, with around 20,000 of its citizens jobless.

In the UAE, a study by Sharjah University last year found that 32.6% of Emirati men, and 47.7% of women, are not in work.

LDU said...

Thank you for speaking your mind Minister. From personal experience, Muslims in Australia, and I'm sure in many other Western nations, are always given the ultimatum: i)assimilate - leave behind your cultural heritage and become 'Australian' or ii)go back to wherever you or your parents came from. The frightening factor here is that senior politicians have echoed this rhetoric.

I've been reading about Dubai lately and it doesn't seem like an Arab, let alone a Muslim city at all. If any city in Australia was to be going through the 'cultural erosion' that Dubai is going through, I am sure severe sanctions would be imposed on the non-Anglo inhabitants.

Mohammed said...

ldu,

your comparison doesnt make sense. Muslim immigrants to Australia are told to assimilate as a price for citizenship. They pay taxes and in return get basic benefits such as cheap education, healthcare and a token voting right.

In Dubai, immigrants are not offered any kind of permanent residency and as a result they dont have an incentive to assimilate.

Dubai Blogger said...

Why are expats here? To do jobs that local people do not want to do or to do jobs that people cannot do. So if they can do all the work themselves and preserve their culture then that's great. But be realistic. They could have been doing that for a long time.

Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has made efforts in the last 2 years to gauge educational problems in the gulf. And his committees have determined that the level is disgustingly low.

So laws can be made, but people cannot do jobs if they have no education or training. And most companies do not just give away their trade secrets and training. So I think it is something that in the far future might be a problem; but I doubt it.

I think some education is improving in Dubai, but not fast enough.

Lirun said...

sorry that is ridiculous..

muslims in australia have complete freedom and many have chosen not to assimilate at all..

there are neighbourhoods in major australian cities where you are better off with arabic than english and no one has ever asked these people to leave or cease manifesting their culture provided they respect the liberties of those already there..

the UAE are looked at by the western world as a ray of hope.. ducth german belgian french spanish english etc etc etc nationals whether ethnic or immigrant look to you for hope for a peaceful solution to their rapidly changing demographic.. they pray to find peaceful coexistence as they watch their local culture corroding..

in australia aussie women have demonstrated time and time again against being referred to by muslim leaders as pieces or meat

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20646437-601,00.html

attacking the local way of life and insulting the non muslim majority.. and yet the country is very much in defense of its non discriminatory immigration policies and the values that country represents..

as commented by others.. these workers have done much for the construction of the country that the ethnic locals now enjoy.. i recommend considering their rights carefully and making sure that in the process you dont consider false information.. this is a very important topic both for the UAE at large and for the world as it seeks to harmonise clashes between civilisations..

Seabee said...

It's just another pronouncement made withoput any thought.Without the expats there'd be huge empty spaces and cities, the local populations just aren't anywhere big enough. And simply changing the workforce every six years doesn't reduce the number, it just changes the people.
If they want people to assimilate they have to look at offering citizenship, getting rid of the work sponsorship for temporary residency system, promote the local language & culture to expats etc etc etc.

LDU said...

"In Dubai, immigrants are not offered any kind of permanent residency and as a result they dont have an incentive to assimilate."

Oh ok. I wasn't aware of that. I read something about a 99 year residency status or something along those lines?

LDU said...

"muslims in australia have complete freedom and many have chosen not to assimilate at all.."

Yes, that is correct, only in return for being screwed through and through from politicians and other high profile members of the public.

A book written by long time journalist Peter Manning, titled Dog Whistle Politics and Journalism, illustrates the continuous un-necessary ill treatment of Australian Muslims pretty well.

"and no one has ever asked these people to leave or cease manifesting their culture provided they respect the liberties of those already there."

You haven't heard of Peter Costello? Bronwyn Bishop? Sophie Popupluous (spelling?)?

"in australia aussie women have demonstrated time and time again against being referred to by muslim leaders as pieces or meat "

Ummm, to my knowledge only one Muslim cleric has called women meat. And he was condemned to a very high extent from his community. Contrast this with the comments of the former Governor General, why wasn't the GG's comments which weren't at all different from the clerics recieving the same amount of publicity?

"these workers have done much for the construction of the country that the ethnic locals now enjoy.. "

Yes, the work they're doing is not bona fide. It comes with large tax free salaries that they wouldn;t of had back home.

"Harmonises clash between civilisations"

Yeah lol, by getting rid of the vilified culture i assume?

the great divide said...

"Muslim immigrants to Australia..."

Huh?

People usually emigrate from one place to another.

Indian immgrants to Australia...makes sense. They migrated from India.

Chinese immgrants to Australia...makes sense. They migrated from China.

Muslim immigrants?

Hindu immigrants?

Buddhist immigrants?

Christian immigrants?

Jain immigrants?

Judaist immigrants?

Wiccan immigrants?

Taoist immigrants?

Why bring religion into it? Why not just refer to immigrants by former nationality, or the region from which they came?

Is it because people of certain religions see themselves on one side and the entire rest of the world on the other...the only division being religion?

us vs. them said...

'"these workers have done much for the construction of the country that the ethnic locals now enjoy.. "'

"Yes, the work they're doing is not bona fide. It comes with large tax free salaries that they wouldn;t of had back home."

Large tax-free salaries...yessir! Dh 800 a month ($220) for working in the pleasant sunny weather (you don't have that in Iceland, do you?) (oh by the way that's usually 45 Celsius and above) and don't forget the free housing...(8 people to a room)....how long have you been reading this blog, sir?

"Oh ok. I wasn't aware of that...."

lol.

LDU said...

"Is it because people of certain religions see themselves on one side and the entire rest of the world on the other"

Great divide,

It is odd that you look at it that way. Have you ever thought about it this way: Muslims always being treated as a monolith? 'Muslim' being mentioned in papers when religion has nothing to do with the matter at hand, such as 'Muslim man evades $... tax?', which always implies that they did what they did because they're muslim?

ammaro.com said...

its ridiculous; this is going to end up causing so many problems. i really hope they don't enforce this idea, it hardly makes sense, and if implemented will end up with a complete slowdown of the region.

Anonymous said...

"the erosion of local culture" -

What culture exactly are we expats eroding?
Sorry, I must have accidentally stepped on one without noticing.

Tall buildings alone don't make civilization.

localexpat said...

""Millions of expats could be kicked out of Gulf""

oh sure great idea... it is a demographically impossible for the gulf countries to function without the expatriate man power ;-)

raf said...

When was the last time that a poor construction worker was a threat to the locals' culture? It's the media that has gotten to them. These are people who think that Britney and Paris are the people they are competing with. It has nothing to do with Asians. It's better they deal with their society issues: increased homosexuality (lets not start an argument on one now), depletion of morals (dhiyafah culture, prostitution), increased bank loans, undeserving locals given too many unnecessary benefits, inability to save ('oh i earn only 8000 a month and i cant even pay for MY own expenses in that money') and SO MUCH MORE!

Lirun said...

sorry - i took my lead from idu

anyway hoping not to get argumentative.. but the notion of brain drain and skill shortage will hopefully moderate any extreme ideas..

rosh said...

Wasn't this proposal put forth sometime in the last 10 years?

I don't know what to make of such thought process. How come an expat community can preserve it's culture inspite of being in foreign land, but citizens cannot in their own nation? It takes two to tango you know.

Having said that, the minister's comment to an extent is true - most parts do feel more like various expat districts today, compared to 10-20years back, but I suppose that's a given when you've got more people moving into a city or nation. All major cities in North America have a Chinatown or Indian, Arab or Persian districts/streets.

Personally, this proposition may be nothing short of a humanitarian crisis for those long term *expats* in the UAE. I do not believe it's going to do anyone much good - the employers, employees or the property businesses.

GCC nations, shall always need expats or external resources, this is a fact. Hence, would it not be feasible to keep existing or long term expats who are more likely to blend in & with, than newer folks who move in say, every 6 years?

If naturalization is sensitive, perhaps consider legal permanent resident status, do away with this sponsorship business - so that a longterm expat's stay in GCC is not dependent on a job.

There are so many young 2nd/3rd generation expats, who feel the place as home, but leave the UAE, primarily given the lack of longevity of permanent residence. Most developed nations like the US, Canada, Australia, NZ and some EU nations - extend an arm and a leg for such young, educated, able human resources. Does it occur to Ministers like Majeed Al-Alawi the potential resources that are being lost?

Live from the UAE said...

Obviously this is utterly unworkable, at least in the UAE. Given that 99% of private sector employees in the UAE are expats, telling them all to leave would lead to the immediate collapse of the country itself.

For example, let's talk about water. Where does all that water come from? From expat-run desalination plants. (The staggering drain of groundwater in recent years pretty much rules out its use in the foreseeable future.)

And power?

And the Modern Bakery?

Well. Good luck with that, eh?

Anonymous said...

wow...i hope its accepted

Anonymous said...

Like most similar restrictions it's going to end up biting them in the proverbial a%$... they're going to have to give so many exemptions to it that the fundamental rule is just about worthless. That's the wrong way to go around it. Instead put more effort into education from the earliest stages all through gradate school and beyond. I think by and large expats are respectful of local culture, customs, and religion. Sure some need a good spanking, but that's still the small minority. I think blaming expats for these problems is narrow minded and short sighted. It's looking for the problem in the wrong place.

archer14 said...

What a load of BS, I read almost the same kind of proposal a couple of months back. It's not going to affect anyone, because it does not make any economic sense. They're building bigger airports and facilities for what - us.
There is a problem when it comes to implementation of Arabic. Having been a product of the Dubai education system - I cannot speak anything beyond exchanging pleasantries.
I'd suggest they teach kids beyond basic Arabic, and you'll see the effects of it in the years to come.

fellow atheist said...

The sad thing is that an idiot like that is allowed to speak on behalf of a country. This is obviously not a practical solution to their 'problem'. Giving permanent residency and citizenship is. What makes this even more bizarre is that Bahrain is perhaps the most liberal of the GCC countries when it comes to naturalization.

Oh, and I certainly will not be in line, should they offer citizenship to any of the GCC countries. Let's just say, cultural differences?

rosh said...

"Giving permanent residency and citizenship is"

Personally, I don't think citizenship is the solution (but residency) - just given the ratio of natives/emi's v/s expats. Citizenships is likely to cause more issues than solutions, in the immediate future. More people are naturalized today, than a decade back, but it's still a drop in the well.

However more important is the need to have substantive interaction between expat & natives, one has to explore the other. Sadly in the UAE, each expat community sticks amongst itself and likewise most Emi's. To an extent most 2nd/3rd generation expat offspring's, neither know the cultures of their parents home nations nor of the UAE, in it's truest form.

BuJ said...

Here's another related article from one of Bahrain's English daily newspapers:

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=195527&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=30196

BuJ said...

my own 2 cents:

i agree with one of the fellow commenters.. this is completely unfeasable especially in the UAE.. it's also like shooting the GCC in the foot. isn't the whole point of ambition schemes like the palm, the burj dubai etc to put the uae on the map and thus attract people? surely we won't ask them to leave after 6 years?

i think a bit of thought needs to be put into such policies before their are announced & reported by the media.

Michael & Kerry said...

"In the UAE, a study by Sharjah University last year found that 32.6% of Emirati men, and 47.7% of women, are not in work."

You have to love statistics! There is a huge difference between "not in work", "unemployed", and "unemployable". Why he is at it why doesn't he quote the number of women in KSA who are "not in work". For that matter what about quoting the number of men in the GCC who own multiple businesses and don't actually "work".

As far as the little discussion above regarding Australia; the majority of people in Australia are treated quite poorly by politicans and public figures. It is not based on race or religion... that is just the media for you.

One final comment regarding "culture" in this region (I can't be bothered scrolling). There is a rich and vibrant culture here, just some spend too much time comparing.

Anonymous said...

This law will never be applied its not realistic.However, as an expatriate its disapointing to hear such things.After all the years and the participation in building this country we are looked at in this way.As an expatriate I know what I'm here for,I don't ask for what is supposed to be our rights, yet I don't know why we have to be reminded that we're not part of this community on a dailly basis, its becomming sickening really!!!. WE DON'T WANT THE NATIONALITY, WE JUST WANT PEACE OF MIND TO WORK BETTER, WE ARE NOT THE REASON OF THE LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT. INSTEAD THE LOCALS CAN LEARN FROM THE EXPATRIATES TO IMPROVE IN THE WORKING SECTOR.THEY DON'T HAVE TO WORRY THEY WILL REACH AND HOPEFULLY ONE DAY WE WILL LEAVE IT ALL TO THEM BUT MEANWHILE PLEASE LET US FEEL THE SLIGHTEST CREDIT TO WHAT WE ACCOMPLISHED.

mcmenon said...

Gulf News dedicated a full page on this - Gulf states 'suffer erosion of culture'.

Refer to this report as well: Six-year cap on foreign workers'

Unemployment is a major problem in Bahrain... the situation is very very different from what it is in the UAE.

You have to see it to believe it. A quick search in youtube will show quite a few results. Like this one for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkwxBofW4hY

It is not a cultural problem or an 'Asian' problem.

If there is problem, it is social/political/economical in nature.

It is a Bahrain problem.

|quote gulf news|
The Minister, Majid Al Alawi, was an opposition activist living in exile in London until he returned home after the king declared an amnesty for opposition figures in 1999.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appointed Al Alawi, a member of Bahrain's Shiite majority, to his current post as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

---

He has a PhD in International Relations from the UK

|quote - gulfnews|

There is work to be done in Bahrain, even if they will forever remain to be the Dubai/ UAE wannabe (even with the F1 circuit).

On the 07th of August this year, Gulf News carried another report:

Bahrain plans residence permits for retired expats


|quote|
Bahraini authorities will grant entry visas and two-year renewable residence permits to retired foreigners who worked in the kingdom or in any of the other five Gulf Cooperation Council countries for at least 15 years.

Foreigners who own houses worth at least 50,000 Bahraini dinars (about Dh487,193) or who have shares in an investment project worth a minimum of 100,000 Bahraini dinars (about Dh974,386) will also benefit from the new measure announced on Sunday by the Cabinet.

No date was announced for the implementation of the new measure, but the Cabinet said that the interior ministry has been tasked with preparing the relevant regulations.

The decision to allow self-sponsorship residence permits for GCC residents is seen as a move by the local authorities to encourage foreigners to lead retired lives in Bahrain.

|unquote|


Foreign investment in the region, that too in the UAE, is humungous.

As mentioned in a previous entry - Dubai/UAE woke up to new global opportunities much before other GCC states.

That's why HH Sheikh Mohammed is a visionary leader. We need his wisdom and leadership. God bless.

Long time resident... said...

“In some areas of the Gulf, you can’t tell whether you are in an Arab Muslim country or in an Asian district. We can’t call this diversity and no nation on earth could accept the erosion of its culture on its own land”

Seems to me they have issues with 'Asian looking' districts - no issues with really high rise 'western looking' areas :)

Have any of these so called 'ministers' heard of political correctness?

Mars said...

say wha??? are they *expletive*-in' serious? not is that downright degrading, that's being ungrateful for all the hard work blue-collar and white-collar expats have given.

secondly, what is so wrong with 'asian'-looking places? if that was the case, why build an 'indian' or 'chinese' or even 'persian' themed malls (such as Ibn Batuta)? and incase they didn't notice, skyscrapers aren't an arab thing...i believe it was first fashionable in the west.

*grumbles a few more expletives in disgust'*

DUBAI JAZZ said...

This is funny. Coming from the construction business you'd think that having 6 years Gulf experience is a very poor for your resume.
Which brings me to the question: is this 6 years gap going to be applied (if approved) all over the Gulf? or on the level of each state individually?
In other words: can I work in the UAE for 6 years, then move to Qatar for another 6 years? then to Bahrain, then to Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?
Which gives me 36 years right of residency in the Gulf all in all, by the end of which i would have either been forcibly assimilated or died moving furniture...

Anonymous said...

read between the lines-- this is all about South Asians. Westernern ex-pats are for the most part NOT interested in long-term migration to Dubai, tho many more South Asians are. I think Gulf Arab leaders look nervously at Fiji-type scenarios-- where local indigenous cultures soon find them selves close to minority status in their own backyard.

this may have legs. in any case, the growing numbers of active educated South Asians in the Gulf (esp. UAE) will put pressure on the existing ruling arrangement.

merely pointing out what the motivations may be; not agreeing with them

to be or not to be said...

Have they ever noticed that they happen to be Asians. Doesn't Bahrain participate in the Asian games.

http://www.travour.com/asian-games-2006/participating-countries-in-asian-games-2006-doha.html

Harsha said...

is there a possiblity that the residency cap is for further visas issued?

Real Balushi said...

Here is it my Own Proposal,


I suggest that GCC adopt a policy to kick out all Other humans from this planet!!!


These people i.e you folks, are eroding our culture, by making us drive mercedes instead of a Camel!

You people are buying our petrol and thus that is making us to do force labour, and all other ills that comes with wealth!!!!


You people are giving us internet which is making us do all those things against our culture!!!



You people are making whisky that is Why we are getting drunk in the clubs and making arse of ourselves!!!



You sc-umbs Expats!!!

Katib said...

"Over 200 Bahrain students face expulsion from the University of Pune for allegedly overstaying their visas." Bahrain students face expulsion from Pune varsity 4 Oct, 2007

Seems like the Bahraini people are further eroding their culture by emulating "Asian habits" like overstaying visas in other countries and becoming illegals.

It is not one person - but "200" of them, an overwhelming number considering the population of the island nation!

hm said...

katib, this is silly one has nothing to do with the other. grow up.

the students or a managing body may have missed a deadline, hence all 200 are collectively held accountable. these things happen....

Xalimah said...

It’s so easy and not to mention fascist to blame a loss of culture on immigrants. The governments in the gulf par Saudi and Oman are the ones that bend over backwards to sell their souls and lose their identity. Look at any advert for Dubai, your bombarded with images of Europeans and all things that mimic European culture, they seldom celebrate their own culture, they hardly promote the local language, they instil a ideas of west is best to their kids and then they turn around and complain about foreigners? Baah!

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