Expat cap strikes back

Controversial plan back on agenda with GCC labour ministers drawing up plans to bring cap into force.
By Dylan Bowman
Mon 18 Aug 2008 08:53 AM

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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