GCC ministers propose 11-point program to cut foreign manpower


The ministers also focused on ways to benefit from the Bahraini Project for Recruitment and Employment.

According to Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, who headed yesterday’s meeting, the basis of the Bahraini project is to “raise the cost of importing foreign labor to such an extent that it would no longer be feasible to import it.”

Al-Gosaibi said, “I hope that businessmen will realize our future goals are to improve market conditions.”

Emirati Labor Minister Ali Al-Kaabi said that 10 million foreigners lived and worked in the six GCC countries. He mentioned that annual remittances by foreign workers to their home countries amounted to some $ 30 billion. Saudi Arabia employs the largest number of foreigners in the GCC, with over 7 million of them living and working in the Kingdom.

Solving unemployment among Gulf nationals is a major challenge, according to GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah.

Despite Attiyah mentioning that future GCC agendas would seek to eliminate unemployment in member countries, no specific strategy or plan has been revealed after the meeting.

The GCC leaders at their summit meeting in Manama in December 2004 discussed a proposal that would not allow a foreigner to live in any member country more than five years with the exception of a few professions. It also discussed a strategy to gradually reduce the import of foreign labor into the member states.

However, the Sheikh Zayed Summit held in Riyadh last year did not approve any decision relating to the labor market or the recruitment of Gulf nationals to replace foreign workers. Al-Gosaibi said the GCC countries continued to implement strategies to “nationalize” the labor force in individual countries.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Emirati Minister Al-Kaabi denied that the ministers had discussed the recent disturbances in the labor market in Dubai. Leaders of all six Gulf countries are expected to meet in Doha, Qatar, next month for the annual GCC Summit.


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