Assessments

In the Arab Gulf, Shrinking Job Opportunities Force Foreigners Back Home

Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
May 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Laborers wearing hard hats work at building construction site in Manama, Bahrain, on May 18, 2020.

Laborers wearing hard hats work at building construction site in Manama, Bahrain, on May 18, 2020.

(Preju Suresh/Shutterstock)

By reducing demand for foreign labor, the global economic fallout from COVID-19 will, over time, fundamentally alter the demographic makeup of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, which are famously home to a huge number of expatriates. Even as it helps facilitate workforce nationalization efforts across the region, the sharp loss of foreign labor and intellectual capital will eventually impede the ability of GCC governments to grow and diversify their energy-dependent economies, lengthening the timeframe for painful but necessary economic reform programs. Meanwhile, the remittance-dependent nations welcoming citizens back from the Arab Gulf, such as Egypt, will be left with even less foreign currency to manage their own mounting financial crises at home. ...

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