COVID-19 and the Intensification of the GCC Workforce Nationalization Policies
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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments have intensified their efforts to nationalize their workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic contraction. These policies will have a wide-ranging negative impact on migrants and will affect GCC labour markets more broadly. This paper examines how to strike a balance between the implementation of workforce nationalization policies and reducing harm for migrants given the lack of social protection mechanisms. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have grown dependent on the migrant workforce to fuel their economic growth, with 35 million foreign migrants living in the GCC in 2019, according to the UN. In recent years, leaders of the GCC countries have grown wary of this increased dependence and have launched efforts to nationalize their workforce in an attempt to rectify the structural labour imbalances that have developed over the last few decades.