GCC’s deporting expatriate 1000s of workers
According to the local media, violations of labour and residency laws are cited by the local authorities as serious reasons for deportation. But it is widely believed that the real reason is the latent ‘nationalisation campaigns’ that are having that effect.
Kuwait has deported 20,000 expatriates in the first nine months of the year for their non-compliance with its residence and labour laws. Saudi Arabia has started a similar procedure with certain regions having as high proportion as 42% of the deported foreign workers violating the residency and labour rules during the same period of time.
Recent statistics showed that the Saudi Ministry of Interior deported as much as 475,943 people who were in violation of the residency and labour.
A great number of other expatriates will be deported as soon as the paper work regarding their situation and their sponsors is completed; reliable sources informed, adding : “they are in police custody now and their sponsors have been called to pay for their return tickets and settle all pending issues with their employers. They are expected to be deported within days,” the sources added.
Meanwhile in Kuwait, where around two thirds of the total population estimated at 3.3 million people, are expatriate workers from Asian countries. They work as domestic helpers and in the construction sector and form within the country distinctive communities. Under the sponsorship system, expatriates cannot normally take up a job unless they are sponsored by a national individual or a company that itself is sponsored also by a national.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s Labour Ministry referring to its Saudisation programme has added 19 job titles in the reserved for nationals category of work, resulting in a ban of permanent, temporary or seasonal visas to expatriates. These measures are following the government’s drive to boost its nationalisation campaign in employment, a ministry statement said. As per that statement, it has long pursued this Saudisation, under which firms are compelled to replace all foreigners with Saudi nationals.
The two other GCC members—Bahrain and Qatar have similar objectives especially given the increasing social and economic pressures across the Gulf on the available liquidities resulting in a further cut of foreign presence in the fields and floors. Authorities in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, have in recent years sought to allocate public sector jobs to Emirati nationals. This drive towards “Emiratisation”—a policy initially launched three decades ago has all but reduced the vast numbers of the expatriate manpower. For instance, jobs that can only be held by Saudis include administrator of human resources, personnel departments at government and private sector companies and the like together with mid to low grade employment specifically listed in the directive.
Oman on the other hand plans to deport over 1,000 foreigners that were found working illegally on a multi-billion dollar project.
There are over 1.5 million foreign workers in Oman, many of them from south and southeast Asia; they far outnumber the Omani citizens working in the private sector and the government wants to limit the number of foreigners, in order to make more jobs available for Omanis and reduce the amount of wages remitted abroad.
Signs of tensions between the countries labour policies and the big on-going infrastructure and building plans are surfacing here and there.