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Mon 18 Aug 2008 08:53 AM

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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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kaptain 12 years ago

"stem soaring unemployment among nationals"..after limiting the entry of unskilled, would the locals take up the labour work in the hot hours of the emirates. Doubtful. Locals would NEVER take up such a job. It's no use manipulating the fate of such poor people with laws like these.

Ashley 12 years ago

Implementing this in a growing economy would only lead to disastrous consequences, and the only ones to pay the penalties are the expats. Considering the direction the region is heading towards, it is about time someone puts the thinking cap on.

A.L.S 12 years ago

America & Europe have opened their doors to many other nationalities & cultures & yet they are able to keep their local cultures alive other the years?!? One cannot only have the cream from the top! If you want to have a thriving economy, foreign investors etc. - you have to accept that many people from all walks of life will come to your country. Instead of shunning their cultures, invest in and show off your culture. And by the way - this plan will only work if the GCC nationals will accept to do the hard and minimal paid work that all these poor people are doing. Which I highly doubt as they are not even willing to serve people but be served.

Kenneth 12 years ago

These sort of ridiculous rules are not going to stop the erosion of anything. Cultural erosion starts at home and in social gatherings regardless of how many years your secretary has been in the country. These rules are just going to make it harder for companies to find replacement for staff that has been trained over the years on certain jobs that GCC nationals will never take, such as office boys or even house maids. thousands of families will suffer trying to find maids they can again trust with their kids after 6 years. For what? So they can get another one from the same country? There is no common sense being used here. A quick fix of the sort will only have dire consequences for the future of GCC economies. A lot of GCC nationals are unemployed because they don't really want to work - this is a sad truth. A lot of youngsters want to be CEOs fresh out of university or nothing. The cultural issues need to be fixed within the local GCC societies as the world becomes a smaller place. You can't stop globalisation but you can embrace the changes in harmony with your traditions, with the full pride of your national identity yet in a world with great diversity.

Scot Danner 12 years ago

limit expats' stays. In Dubai over 90 percent of private sector workers are expats. They are stealing the jobs of Emiratis. Send them home and let the Emiratis have the jobs. Dubai will benefit greatly from Emiratisation.

muhammad irfan 12 years ago

I have been living in this country for last 26 years. I know only this country and I am not a manager, doctor or a lawyer. Yes I work hard and I am able to survive better here than from where I come. there are many many others like me.

Ron Saldanha 12 years ago

So how often has one seen a local staying at a same post or say even the same firm for two years? I know people personally who jump every 6 months or so! I guess this is another one of the backward steps some of the countries in question are taking, i'm so used to this!

Paul 12 years ago

Yeah, expats are stealing the jobs of Emiratis. We hide behind bushes until we see an Emirati go past and then we burst out, shouting "Look! There's an Emirati! Let's steal his job!" Let's put things in perspective. Expats are prepared to work longer hours for less money than an Emirati. Want to know why Dubai is so successful? It's because people who are actually prepared to work for a living for a pittance of wage do all the work. How on earth will the UAE benefit from 'Emiratisation'? Judging by the sterling performance of the public sector, the main employer of Emiratis, we'd see the the UAE getting left behind the rest of the world within days of such a policy. Until Emiratis can be convinced to build towers, collect rubbish, drive taxis and, let's be fair, work an 8 hour day, the UAE will need expats. Yes, it would be great if the UAE could boast a majority Emirati workforce. But there aren't enough locals to do the jobs, and they're not prepared to. The choices are either work within the status quo to ensure that good jobs for Emiratis remain, or to shut down the entire country for a few decades. We're not stealing jobs - we're picking up the crumbs that Emiratis can't be bothered to pick up for themselves. Stop blaming us for your unemployment problem.

Pauline 12 years ago

We need to establish an understanding of what is employment in our young nationals. It is sad to see that every one feels they can become CEOs but not really work or contribute attitude. It is very evident that they feel that skills are achieved after a degree. Education and knowledge is not the same. Ability to perform a job doesn't come from the highest of a degree only. Why is the word ''unity'' and ''care'' missing in a lot of things. If you can teach to care for something you dont have to worry for its tomorrow. Unfortunately this feeling of we need to care for our country is missing. Expats do not feel they can treat this country as their home. Their biggest motivator unfortunately becomes money and the attitude of earn as much as possible and leave. Which is sad. End of the day when a lot of them feel that way, my opinion is that the product is neglected. This country has its own identity. It is wonderful if we let common sense prevail.

Petra 12 years ago

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.