15 janvier 2015
Jeddah, 15th January 2015
Dr Helene Thiollet, CNRS-CERI Sciences Po
Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Lama Al-Sulaiman
Centre Français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales (CEFAS), Dr Michel Mouton
French Consulate General in Jeddah, Dr Louis Blin
The Middle East is a region of intense mobility, both voluntary and forced. The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) are the largest recipients of labour migrants in the world and have been a powerful magnet for regional migration since the beginning of tafra, the oil era. Arab, Asian and European migrants have converged to the Gulf countries where they ended up representing up to 90% of the local population and 98% of the labour force (Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). GCC countries have recently embarked on a trend of reforms of labour markets and migration policies that have launched a new phase of the region’s migration history.
Saudi Arabia stands apart demographically and politically in the region as the largest labour importer in stocks (9M) if not in share of the population and a demographic and geographic giant in the region. The presence of foreign expats in Saudi society and the dependence of the labour market towards expatriate labour force has become a crucial issue on the political agenda in the last 3 years. Saudi Arabia has entered a period of labour market and migration policy reforms building on the 1990s series of saudization policies led by late Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. This includes both the Nitaqat program and the creation of Hafez as well as new regulation of immigration in the country.
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