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Volume :13 Issue : 51 1987      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

URBANIZATION AND LABOUR MIGRATION IN THE ARAB COUNTRIES OF THE GULF

Auther : By Dr. Galal Abdulla Mowod

 

            The Arab Countries of the Gulf are the most urbanized countries in the Arab World.  Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are witnessing the emergence “national city states”, since their capital comprise more that 70 percent of population.  These four countries as well as Saudi Arabia and Oman are gaining their urbanizational momentum from the steady flow of Arab and non-Arab migrants who are flocking in for work and fortune.  In some Gulf cities (e.g. Kuwait, Doha and Manama), the expatriate laborers constitute half or more of the population.

           Labour migration has significantly affected the socio-economic and cultural aspects of life in most of the Arab countries of the Gulf and has created several problems.  Here one can refer to the following problems:

 1.     Raising the level and ratio of urban growth in these Gulf countries compared with other Arab countries and mounting pressure on the system of urban services. The shortage of housing, for example, has led to the spread of “slums” or “shanty towns” in some Gulf cities.

 2.     Creating all sorts of tension, strains, conflicts and disintegration between the migrants and the indigenous population in the Gulf cities as well as between the different ethnic communities of expatriate workers.

 3.     Consolidating socio-cultural factors which limit the scale of participation in productive activities by the indigenous labour force in general and women in particular, in the context of heavy reliance on the expatriate labour in all sectors including personal services.

 4.     Threatening the Arab culture and identify the Gulf countries, or what is so called “de-Urbanization of the Gulf”, as a result of Asian growing presence in these countries.  Here one must take into account the cultural implications of Asian socialization of Arab children, not to mention the political movements of Asians that may arise in the future in order to establish their nation-states in the Gulf.

 The Governments of the Gulf countries must coordinate their efforts and adopt an effective strategy to deal with these problems, especially those related to Asian laborers.  The basic elements of such strategy are: developing the skill and efficiency of the indigenous labor force to change it into an active factor in socio-economic development, increasing the numbers of the Arabs – not Asians – in the sectors suffering from the shortage of native labor force and dealing on an equal footing with the indigenous population and the Arab migrants.

 

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