Movements of Labour

Frustrations with trade liberalisation have in the past led to the conclusion that in the case of the Arab countries economic integration should rather start with movements of factors of production—labour and capital—than with merchandise trade. This view appeared to have empirical support in the 1970s and 1980s, when inter-Arab migrations reached their maximum intensity. At that time, migration was viewed as bringing about a new Arab social order (Ibrahim, 1982) through its impact on family structures and its opening the possibility of capital accumulation for the middle and lower income classes of the sending countries. But this vision was soon aborted: Iraq, a major receiving country, became embroiled in an extended and bloody conflict with Iran, while oil prices collapsed in 1985 precipitating expenditure cuts in all major oil-exporting countries. Then, in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and some of the major senders of migrant labour—notably Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Yemen—aligned themselves in support of Saddam Hussein. The reaction was immediate and radical: Saudi Arabia expelled approximately 800,000 Yemeni workers before the end of the year, having cancelled the rule that allowed Yemeni nationals to enter the kingdom without a visa and work without a sponsor (Ayalon, 1990, 725).[1] In addition, 200,000 Jordanians, 150,000 Palestinians, and nearly all Sudanese were effectively expelled from the kingdom (Richards and Waterbury, 2007). In Kuwait, half of the Palestinian population, estimated at 400,000 before the invasion, either fled or was expelled. The rest were also gradually pushed out, and by 2012 the Palestinian population of Kuwait was estimated to be barely 80,000.

In fact, the relative importance of other Arabs in the total expatriate population in the Gulf had been declining systematically even before 1990 as shown in Tables 11.1, 11.2 and 11.3.

table 11.1 Arab share inforeign populations 1975-2015

1975

1985

1996

2002/4

2010/15

Bahrain

22

15

12

15

8.4

Kuwait

80

69

33

30

26.5

Oman

16

16

11

6

2.6

Qatar

33

33

21

19

30.2

Saudi Arabia

91

79

30

33

46

uae

26

19

10

13

18.4

GCC

72

56

31

32

30

sources: for 1975 to 2004: KApiszEwsKi, 2006; for 2010/15: European University institute, migration policy centre, gulf labour markets and migration database (glmm database—http://gulfmigration.eu/glmm-database/).

table 11.2 Estimates of the number offoreign nationals (Arab nationalities), by country of residence in Gcc member countries (2010-2014)

Destination

Bahrain

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

uae

Gcc

Year

2014

end 2012

2010

2013-2014

2013

2013-2014

Origin

Algeria

n.a.

845

n.a.

n.d.

n.a.

10,000 <e)

10845

Egypt

20,000

482,692

29,877

18,0000

1,370,000 <d)

400,000

2,482,569

Iraq

n.a.

15,262

4,159

8,976

20,000

52,000

100,397

Jordan

7,000

55,081

7,403

40,000

250,000

200,000

559,484

Lebanon

2,300

42,586

n.a.

25,000

160,000

100,000

329,886

Mauritania

n.a.

142

n.a.

n.d.

n.a.

5,000

5,142

Morocco

800

3,495

n.a.

9,000

20,000

14,000

47,295

Palestine

5,000

8,072

n.a.

20,500

500,000

150,000

683,572

Sudan

14,000

4,551

6,867

42,000

500,000

75,000

642,418

Syria

3,000

135,554

n.a.

60,000<c)

1,000,000

242,000

1,440,554

Tunisia

500

2,863

n.a.

15,000

12,000

4,500

34,863

Yemen

4,700

10,762

n.a.

40,000

800,000

90,000

945,462

TOTAL

57,300

761,905

48,306

440,476

4,632,000

1,342,500

7,282,487

Figures for migrants in the GCC may be overestimated due to the inclusion of a large share of Gulf-born (second and third generation) non-nationals.

Palestinians are holders of travel documents.

Some of the figures quoted are unverifiable estimates. Therefore, they should be taken as indicative only and should not be used for statistical purposes.

Unless stated otherwise, receiving countries’ estimates are from relevant tables in the pop section of the eui Migration Policy Centre, glmm database.

  • (a) United Nations (2013), revision total migrants’ stocks by origin and destination countries.
  • (b) Snoj, J. (20i3)‘Population of Qatar by nationality’ (Doha: bq Magazine) December, http://www.bqdoha.com/2013/12/population-qatar (accessed on 8 April 2016) and http:// gulfmigration.eu/qatar-estimates-of-foreign-nationals-residing-in-qatar-by-country-of- citizenship-selected-countries-2014/ (accessed on 8 April 2016).
  • (c) Latest figures available as of October 2015, in: De Bel-Air, F. (2015УА Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies’, glmm Explanatory Note, glmm—en—No. 11/2015. http://gulfmigration.eu/media/pubs/exno/GLMM_EN_2015_11.pdf (accessed on 8 April 2016).
  • (d) Official estimate: Egyptian workers in Saudi Arabia number 968,000 (end of 2013). https:// www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14187-egyptians-represent-40-per-cent-o--saudi- arabias-total-expatriate-workforce (accessed on 8 April 2016).

Estimates of family dependents: in the absence of any indication of the ratio of worker to family dependents in the uae, we use data available for Kuwait in 2012: 2.4 workers per family dependent. Estimates of Egyptians (total): 968,000 + (968,000/2.4) = 1,371,000.

(e) Snoj, J. (2015)‘uae’s population by nationality’ (Doha: bq Magazine) April 12.

Table as of December 15, 2015.

table 11.3 Total population andpercentage of nationals and non-nationals in Gcc countries (2010-2015)

Country

Date/period

Total

population

Nationals

Nonnationals

% in total population

Nationals

Non-nationals

Bahrain*1*

mid-2014

1,314,562

630,744

683,818

48.0

52.0

Kuwait12)

31 March 2015

4,161,404

1,283,726

2,877,678

30.8

69.2

Oman*3*

25 March 2015

4,149,917

2,324,327

1,825,590

56.0

44.0

Qatar*4*

April 2010

1,699,435

243,019

1,456,416

14.3

85.7

Saudi Arabia*5*

mid-2014

30,770,375

20,702,536

10,067,839

67.3

32.7

United Arab

mid-2010

8,264,070

947,997

7,316,073

11.5

88.5

Emirates*6*

Total*

50,359,763

26,132,349

24,227,414

51.9

48.1

  • * Total provides the sum of population numbers at different dates between April 2010 and March 2015. It is not exactly the total population at any of these dates.
  • 1— Definition Non-nationals are:
  • 1.1— Persons of the nationality of a foreign state other than the gcc state of residence, or bearing no proof of nationality from any given state (stateless persons and holders of refugee status and travel document in a third country);
  • 1.2— Holders of residence permits residing in the given gcc country at the date of census, as per the definition of residence used in each of the countries. Figures for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the uae are estimates.
  • 2— Sources of data:

Unless stated otherwise, the source is eui Migration Policy Centre, glmm database.

  • (1) Bahrain Central Informatics Organisation (cio), Cio’s website, ‘Statistics’ and ‘Population’ sections http://www.data.gov.bh/en/ResourceCenter.
  • (2) Kuwait Public Authority for Civil Information (paci), http://www.paci.gov.kw/en/ (accessed on 31 March 2015).
  • (3) Sultanate of Oman National Centre for Statistical Information (ncsi), http://www.ncsi .gov.om/ (accessed on 5 March 2015).
  • (4) Qatar Statistics Authority (qsa), Census 2010 http://gulfmigration.eu/population-by -nationality-qatari-non-qatari-census-1970-2010/ (accessed on 8 April 2016).
  • (5) Saudi Arabia Central Department for Statistics and Information (cdsi), estimates. http://www.cdsi.gov.sa/ (accessed on 8 April 2016).
  • (6) uae National Bureau of Statistics (nbs), estimates http://www.uaestatistics.gov.ae/ (accessed on 8 April 2016).

Kapiszewski has pointed to the political activism of early Arab migrants and to the pan-Arab beliefs that they entertained:

Many young Arabs regarded borders in the Middle East as artificial lines imposed by Western imperialists, and, consequently, expected them to be eliminated. Another popular pan-Arab view, that of a single Arab nation in which labor “circulates” freely, was also rejected by the Gulf governments for security reasons. Yet another problem was related to the regional distribution of the oil-generated wealth. Whereas the oil- producing countries which preferred to retain that wealth began to link the entitlement of oil revenues to state sovereignty, poorer states increasingly stressed their Arab identity as a good reason to demand their share in the revenues: Iraq even used the oil-related arguments as a justification to invade Kuwait in 1990.

KAPISZEWSKI, 2006, 6-7

Such sentiment has not dissipated to this date and is very central to the Arab civil war.

The declining importance of Arab migrants is even more striking when viewed in the context of growing total expatriate numbers. From the point of view of the composition of their populations, cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha have effectively become South Asian. The lack of a preference for other Arabs—or even positive discrimination against them—has been a huge lost opportunity for regional economic integration, including from the point of view of trade ties and capital movements (which migration would have facilitated). But the attitude of the Gulf countries has, if anything, shifted in the opposite direction: increasingly some of the Gulf States have tended to deprive even large groups of citizens of their nationality, in order to punish dissidents.

  • [1] In later years Yemenis continued to move to the kingdom in many cases illegally (without avisa) and this led to large-scale expulsions as recently as in 2013 and 2015.
 
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