GCC needs clearer migration policy, say experts

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A clear migration policy, better dialogue between governments and community groups and more “on-ground” research was needed to better understand the effect of 18 to 22 million labour migrants in the GCC, a panel discussing labour mobility said.

Panelists at the annual conference for the Arab Thought Foundation (FIKR12), a Beirut-based, non-profit group, also recommended the need to focus on sustainable and long-term growth, and the importance of a sound labour mobility policy.

Organised with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the workshop presented a detailed view of the labour migration patterns in the Arab world, the flow of remittances and how unilateral labour mobility policies tend to be ineffective in the long run.

Michael Newson, Regional Labour Migration/Migration & Development Specialist at the IOM Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Office, said there were more than 18 to 22 million labour migrants in the GCC region, with the region also accounting for nearly one-fifth of total global remittances.

A clear migration policy, he said, “is critical to maintaining labour supply and demand” as well as to drive the region’s development and youth employment.

Highlighting labour mobility between developing nations versus the developed world, Newson said labour migration had a huge impact on the region’s development, particularly in addressing the challenge of creating 80 million jobs by 2020.

He said migration – for work or for humanitarian reasons – was transnational in nature, affecting both originating and destination countries.

“Even minor differences in per capita GDP can trigger labour flows,” he said.

Haissam Minkara, Humanitarian Partnerships Programme Manager at Oxfam, Lebanon, said refugee camps in Lebanon had witnessed an influx of Syrians over the past three years. However, a lack of adequate employment and their migration on humanitarian grounds meant a significant majority were heavily in debt because of the high cost of food and rent.

The panelists asserted the need to do more on-ground research on the number of labour migrants and other related social factors to ensure accurate policy making.

Muftah Etwilb, Regional Representative for North Africa, of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, Libya, said that while the process of labour mobility in the Arab world presented challenges, there were also opportunities that policy makers must take advantage of to drive investment and development strategies.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudis cut wage, benefit bill in delicate pursuit of austerity

Saudis cut wage, benefit bill in delicate pursuit of austerity

Some Saudis appear prepared to accept austerity following the...

Cash crunch at Saudi firm casts shadow over Lebanon's Hariris

Cash crunch at Saudi firm casts shadow over Lebanon's Hariris

The troubles at Saudi Oger have led to a cash crunch and layoffs...

Fly economy class, share an office: Qatar's new reality

Fly economy class, share an office: Qatar's new reality

Gov't employees are being asked to make savings as low energy...

Most Discussed
sponsoredTracking