Gulf Arab countries have decided to impose gradual limits on the large numbers of foreign workers they admit, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regional group said Friday.
Jamil Al-Hujailan said the GCC's six member countries agreed at their summit last month on "a series of measures seeking progressively to limit the number of foreign workers and achieve a demographic balance."
The measures include "the placing of a quota on foreign workers by each GCC country" and "an increase on taxes in the recruitment of expatriates to dissuade local employers from resorting to this foreign labor," said Hujailan, cited by the official Saudi press agency, SPA.
Officials at the GCC summit also decided "to limit the number of unskilled foreigners and to encourage the recruitment of labor responding to market needs," he said.
The GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — do not publish figures on the number of foreign workers they host, but outside experts estimate the laborers make up more than 10 million people out of a population of 24 million.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, the Philippines and Afghanistan account for most of the immigrants.
An official with the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting estimated in 1998 that foreign workers send home nearly $23 billion each year from Gulf countries, most of which are rich from the oil industry.
In recent years GCC countries have had increasing crackdowns on workers, sending back thousands of them. — (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )