Expat population ‘could threaten’ GCC security

Updated 07 October 2012
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Expat population ‘could threaten’ GCC security

JEDDAH: More than 12.5 million workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are foreigners, accounting for 31 percent of the 40 million GCC population, the latest official study said.
Three million foreigners are domestic workers in the six GCC member states.
The expatriate labor is not distributed in uniformly in these countries.
While 30 percent of the Saudi Arabian population is expatriate, in Bahrain it is 26 percent. Expatriates account for 80 percent of the population in the United Arab Emirates, while they constitute 27 percent in Qatar, 63 percent in Kuwait and 62 percent in Oman.
However, some other studies claim that the actual number of expatriate workers in the GCC is about 15 million, Al-Hayat daily reported yesterday.
The expatriate work force in the Gulf can be divided into Arabs and Asians. They flock from their poor native countries to the wealthy Gulf in search of employment and better living conditions. The large-scale recruitment of expatriate work force was justified by the need for executing huge development projects in the fast-growing GCC countries. Another factor was the willingness of expatriate workers to undertake hazardous jobs with lower wages that Gulf citizens refuse to do.
They started coming to the Gulf countries mostly in the 1970s, when oil companies largely depended on workers from the subcontinent. The trading, transport, fishing and security sectors also depended heavily on the expatriates. As the economies in the Gulf countries continued their growth in later decades, multinational companies that undertook extensive development of the infrastructural sector recruited labor from the cheapest sources in Asian countries.
It is also worrying that the level of Arab expatriates has been falling compared to Asians in the GCC. According to a report of the Arab Labor Organization, the number of Arab expatriate workers in the GCC plummeted from 72 percent in 1975 to 23 percent in 2008.
For instance, the report found that Egyptians and other Arab workers accounted for only 11 percent, while Indian workers dominated the work force by 52 percent followed by 10 percent Pakistanis. There are also three percent consultants and experts from Western countries.
One of the problems created by the huge presence of expatriates is the threat they pose to a country’s security. The sheer number will also take its toll on the planned utilities in these countries.
Abdullah Al-Gheilani, an Omani expert on demography, said the imbalance in the population was a security issue rather than an economic one. “The recruitment of expatriate labor and experts for developmental works is not the problem, but the real problem is to depend on the foreign work force for decades. Gulf countries excepting Saudi Arabia and Oman are unable to manage even their internal (security) matters by their national work force,” Al-Gheilani said.
He also warned against the erosion of social values and increase in crime rates because of the imbalanced presence of foreigners in a society.
The expert observed that the expatriates in GCC countries refused to integrate with the local culture, unlike the migrant communities in the United States had been doing.
He called on the Gulf countries to grapple with the unhealthy demographic situation seriously and jointly.
One of the solutions recommended by Al-Gheilani to solve the issue is to enable Arab expatriates to integrate into the GCC society, “because Arabs are less dangerous for the GCC society than any other nationality of expatriate workers.”


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 43 sec ago
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.