While expatriates receive cheers from all quarters for their contributions towards the overall development of the Middle East, a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Labour official cautioned that it wouldn’t be ideal to adopt a myopic view on the increasing presence of expatriates vis-a-vis the unemployment scenario of the region.
Expatriates pose the biggest challenge in the labour market of Gulf States, said GCC Labour and Social Affairs Ministers’ Executive Office Director Aqeel bin Ahmed Al Jassem, who was speaking, during a meeting with Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) Chief Executive Officer Ausamah Al Absi.
“Relying heavily on workforces from other countries, be it Arab or other foreign nations, have been instrumental in reducing opportunities for citizens, in turn worsening the unemployment rate,“ said Mr. Al Jassem.
Pledging that the Executive Office will work with all might to reduce the unemployment percentage, Mr. Al Jassem said that consistent efforts are being made to strike a balance in the Gulf labour market.
“The main challenges faced by the labour market across the Gulf, currently, are the problems of migrant workers (including the problems of domestic workers) and employment issues of nationals. We need to combat
this local unemployment rate and the GCC should handle all the dilemmas that arise from these issues,“ he explained.
He highlighted that the role of the Executive Office was important and pivotal in uniting the efforts and policies to address issues relating to the labour market, within a joint framework that would benefit every member state.
“The best way to address these problems is to address them collectively by the GCC as a unified body,“ he stressed.
“The GCC countries had, much earlier, sensed the problem of the growing number of job seekers among the youth in the Gulf and have embarked on making scientific studies to find solutions to this phenomenon, as adopted by the Council of Labour Ministers at its fourteenth session held in Doha,
Qatar in 1997,“ pointed out Mr.
Al Jassem, adding that each country of the Council has developed and adopted national programmes to achieve this goal.
He lauded Bahrain’s national level efforts and the pioneering programmes including the National Employment Project and praised the efforts undertaken by the LMRA in regulating the ‘expat labour market’ in the Kingdom.
He described the meeting as a beginning towards establishing a direct communication channel between the Executive Office and the LMRA, in order to work together on projects and programmes that have positive effects on the labour markets in the GCC countries.
During the meeting, the officials also discussed major concerns faced by the labour markets in the GCC countries in general and Bahrain in particular, apart from ways to reduce damage to the economic and social aspects resulting from any disruption of labour markets in the region.