GCC labour market restructuring

Regional Views
GCC expats

With some GCC governments pursuing stringent policies in recent years to reduce the number of expats and create more jobs for local citizens, the pandemic, coupled with the oil crisis, has helped to accelerate efforts. This week we analyse the double-edged sword of the expat exodus, focusing on:

  • How budget cuts and layoffs have prompted a rapid outflow of foreign workers, which presents a downside risk to recovery, at least for the short-to-medium term.
  • How the vacuum left by the departure of foreign workers could be partially filled by domestic labour.
  • The implications of the exodus for Kuwait and Oman – both of which tightened employment laws last year – while others in the Gulf, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are liberalising laws to foster investor confidence and facilitate a friendlier expat environment for doing business.


Florence Eid-Oakden, Ph.D, Chief Economist

Ghalia Al Bajali, Analyst

The Regional Views series are thematic papers aimed at identifying and analysing factors behind medium to long-term economic trends shaping the region. Our analysis draws conclusions that help businesses and investors get ahead of the curve. As a firm staffed by Middle Easterners, we focus on insight rather than standard analysis.

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