Huge expat presence a security burden, top GCC official says

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Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News Staff

Published — Wednesday 10 October 2001

Last Update 10 October 2001 3:00 am

RIYADH, 10 October — GCC Secretary-General Jameel Al-Hujeilan stated yesterday that the large number of expatriate workers in the member states posed “a financial, social and security burden” for them.

“This will lead to foreign implanting in our states and societies and will be associated with minority rights and international complications,” he said on the occasion of a meeting of GCC labor ministers in Manama.

Hujeilan estimated the total number of expatriate workers in GCC states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates at 10 million, out of a total population of 28 million.

He referred to the GCC leaders decision to give priority to citizens of member countries in the employment sector.

“Despite efforts at all levels, the issue of nationalizing jobs in member states remains unsolved — as if it were an impossibility,” he added.

The secretary-general called upon the ministers to take strong decisions to create jobs for the growing number of unemployed GCC citizens, by replacing the unwanted expatriate workforce.

Hujeilan urged the authorities in member countries to stop employing expatriates in the trade and service sector and to create more jobs for their citizens.

Meanwhile, the GCC foreign ministers will meet in Muscat, Oman, on Nov. 27 to unify their positions in the aftermath of the terror attacks in the US, work out a long-term strategy to fight terrorism and discuss the growing incidents of harassment of Gulf nationals, Arab students and Muslims reported from various Western countries.

The foreign ministers will also discuss preparations for the annual GCC summit to be held later this year, the security situation in the Gulf and the Middle East region and the rapidly changing security scenario and political situations on regional and global levels, the GCC General Secretariat said in a statement.

It said long-term support for the fight against terrorism both regionally and globally, the Palestinian-Israeli question and ways to prevent the world media from maligning the image of Islam by linking it with terrorism will top the conference agenda.

The foreign ministers will also evaluate the recommendations of a crucial meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha today.

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