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.”


New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

Updated 10 min 18 sec ago
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New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

  • The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers
  • The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec

MONTREAL: The Quebec provincial legislature on Sunday approved a controversial immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to an applicants’ skills.
The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers.
The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec, Canada’s second most-populous province.
Under the new law, some 18,000 applications now on file will be shredded, affecting as many as 50,000 people, many of whom already live in the province.
The 18,000 existing applicants will have to restart the immigration process.
The provincial government promised to expedite processing of their new applications, saying qualified workers would have answers within six months rather than the current 36 months.
The 62-to-42 vote on the bill took place around 4 am (0800 GMT) at the end of a marathon session convened by the governing center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec, immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Twitter.
“We are modifying the immigration system in the public interest because we have to ensure we have a system which meets the needs of the labor market,” Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly.
All three opposition parties opposed the measure, calling it “inhuman” and saying the government did not justify dropping the 18,000 pending applications.
“Honestly, I don’t think this bill will be seen positively in history,” Liberal Party MP Dominique Anglade said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It’s the image of Quebec which gets tarnished.”
Premier Francois Legault’s government resorted to a special parliamentary procedure to limit debate over the proposal.
His party won power in October with a promise to slash by more than 20 percent the number of immigrants and refugees arriving each year in Quebec.
The assembly reconvened on Sunday and after sometimes-acrimonious debate passed a bill banning the wearing of religious symbols by public servants including police officers, judges, lawyers, prison guards and teachers.
However the new law will only apply to new recruits, with existing employees unaffected.
The proposal, also backed by Legault, puts the premier at odds with the multiculturalism advocated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.