Expat cap strikes back

Controversial plan back on agenda with GCC labour ministers drawing up plans to bring cap into force.

The controversial plan to limit how long expatriates can live in the Gulf has raised its head again, with news labour ministers have submitted a proposal to the GCC Council of Ministers to bring the cap into force.

Labour ministers sparked outcry among expatriates last year when the plan to limit unskilled and semi-skilled workers to six years in any one Gulf state was first announced.

The final decision on the cap was supposed to be made by Gulf leaders at last year's GCC summit in Doha, but was deferred until this year's summit in Muscat.

Some media reports claimed the decision was postponed due to pressure from businesses, which had been vocal in their opposition to the cap.

According to Kuwaiti daily Arab Times, labour ministers are currently discussing whether expats' stay should be capped at five or six years and which professions should be exempt.

Sources citied by the newspaper said doctors, lawyers and consultants are some of the professions that might be exempt.

Ministers have also yet to agree upon a timeframe by which Gulf states must implement the measure if it gets approved.

Advocates of the cap say it is necessary to stop the erosion of local culture and to stem soaring unemployment among nationals, while opponents accuse ministers of being shortsighted and misguided, claiming the move could have dire consequences for the region's economies.

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Posted by: Mohammad

The 2 issues at hand can be summerized as follows: 1. What about our culture? 2. What about our jobs? The questions raised would be ... What culture? we need to bring our culture to the front .. we need to strengthen our culture to survive in the globalization world. Cultures are a function of the famous law : Survival of the fittest. Else, many cultures that dissolved historically would be here today. Many tried to save them ... However, they did not succeed because another culture was more fit to stay. for The second part, let us think if GCC are built with the limited population in mind? UAE is built for more than it's population and cannot survive and prosper with the limited number of nationals. Anyone with 2 eyes can see this.... but what can a city of executives and professionals do without the skilled and semi skilled labor? will they do their own services , deliver their own stuff, build and fix their own homes? The main question would be how is the GCC countries survive the pressure that is going to build in the future to give citizenship to people who spent their life in the GCC? It is coming and there is no way to evade it as I could see. Otherwise, we will have to give up our lifestyle to overcome it.

Posted by: Layla

Right, here's a FEW steps to curb all this culture erosion these misguided "ministers" keep going on about: 1. Close down all bars and restaurants. 2. Close down all the bling bling shopping malls. 3. Implement a strict dress code policy where everyone is fully covered. 4. Ban all media that displays Western entertainment (cable and local TV, radio, magazines, concerts...you get the idea). Regaining & retaining culture - sorted.

Posted by: Leigh Vernier

Planners are overlooking three influential factors. 1. The more reliable economic forecasts call for an increase in ex pats, in skilled and unskilled sectors. This is due mainly, to ongoing high liquidity and growth. 2. Education systems NOT turning out employable young people. Made worse by limited employment scope for females. There is a cultural resistance, in some cases, to introducing a modern curriculum. Example: resistance to teaching English at primary level. 3. Skilled specialist ex pats have no corporate scope to train up local employees. Many companies have poor training programs or none at all. Therefore, planning and finance must go into education, training and having specialist skill ex pats working with trainees. End goal? Local talent must be able to compete for jobs and win them against the best ex pat talent.

Posted by: Chris J

The Gulf countries have been built on the back of immigrant expat labour. These fine countries need maintenance now, a task that locals are unwilling to take. Will the locals do this? I do not think so. If you want to see the future, visit Kuwait and see sewerage lines on top of the ground because of the lack of capacity to keep the infrastructure running and look at the lack of cleanliness. Visit a Saudi airport and compare the cleanliness of airports (even with expats dong the work) because the local management do not supervise or understand how to supervise tasks. If you want a nice country, then let the expats retain their meagre salaries and keep the Gulf in a nice condition!

Posted by: Petra

You cannot be the CEO as a new graduate and this is the expectation of young nationals. They do not know - what they do not know as they lack experience from the entry level upwards. Mentoring young nationals is also difficult as they think they do have the skills upon graduation and some do not take this opportunity seriously. If you have a nanny for each child, do not pick up your own trash, wash your own dishes, do your own laundry, do not have to pay for university on your own and more, how do we expect any one of the nationals to work at McDonalds drive through or Pizza Hut delivery. Saudi has tried for years unsuccessfully to nationalize. Until nationals pay and earn their own way from childhood on and are not handed the golden spoon, things will remain the same. A sense of entitlement to the nationality verses a sense of commitment to work in the community and grow from entry level upwards in any company business - we hope the choice is the latter. Preservation of Culture is a totally different discussion.

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