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The expatriate problem
A study about expatriates in the GCC and remittances leads Kipp to question whether the region is ready to regulate the number of foreign workers
February 23, 2009 3:02 by Dana El Baltaji
Total remittances from the 14.5 million expatriates working in Gulf nations exceeds $30 billion (AED110 billion), claims a recent report by Saudi Arabia’s Al Hanoo Holding Company.
“These remittances caused a loss of nine percent of the gross domestic product of the Gulf states,” adds the report, titled Situation of Foreign Workforce in the Gulf. It warns that remittances will put a strain on the GCC states’ economies if the situation is not dealt with.
According to the World Bank, money transfers from the GCC account for 63 percent of total remittances received by Bangladesh in 2008, and 53 percent of the total remittances sent to Pakistan.
The report documents a number of opinions by experts on how to regulate the foreign workforce in the region, reports Gulf News. One of the suggestions is to reduce the number of foreign laborers; another is to reduce expatriates’ benefits and salaries.
Others, such as the directors of Al Hanoo Holding Company, have suggested examining the importance of foreign workers, because they’re worth is determined by the nature of their work.
This isn’t the first time, however, that GCC governments and studies in the region have expressed concern over the growing expatriate population in the GCC. In August 2008, Kipp reported that labor ministers were planning on resuming talks on capping expatriate visas to five or six years. Talks had previously been postponed due to public outcries.
The issue of regulating expatriates in the Gulf, however, raises a more pressing issue: if governments regulate the number of expatriates in the region, will nationals in the region be ready to take over?
There’s no immediate answer, but judging by studies conducted in the region on attitudes toward knowledge acquisition and labor in the Gulf, it seems unlikely.
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