Restrictive labour immigration policies in the oil-rich Gulf: implications for sending Asian countries

Nasra M. Shah, Kuwait University

Since the mid-1990s the six major labour receiving countries in the Middle East have started seriously implementing their policies of reducing the percentage of foreigners in their population and labour force. In early 2000s, about 70 percent of the population and 35 percent of the labour force consisted of foreigners resulting in an acute perception of the need for reduction. Implications of at least four major direct as well as indirect policies will be discussed: 1) Imposition of quotas of foreign workers that may be hired in the public sector; 2) Earmarking of occupations for which only nationals are eligible; 3) A comprehensive review of new work permits to be issued and of the rules governing transfer of work visa from one employer to another; 4) An increase in the cost of living designed to boost the local economy and indirectly discourage the inflow of workers and their families.

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Presented in Session 141: Impact of international migration policies