• Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:56 am

Gulf countries to see mass exodus of expat workers due to Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 10:10 pm May 23rd, 2020
Bangladeshi workers strike over unfair wages in Lebanon
Due to the dollar crisis, migrant employees at Ramco Waste Management, who are predominantly Bangladeshi and Indian, have not received their salaries in US dollars as per their contracts Collected

There might be 1.7 million layoffs in Saudi Arabia and 0.9 million in UAE

Population in some of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries may decrease by as much as 10% as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic forces their mostly foreign workers to leave the oil-rich nations.

“The dependence of the GCC on ex-pat workers and large swathes of job losses as the lockdown bites into key sectors may result in significant falls in population, which could have longer-lasting implications,” Bloomberg said, quoting Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman are the GCC countries.

The Oxford Economics report also said the GCC is in recession as lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus and the ramifications of low oil prices hit the non-oil economies. Consequently, employment across the GCC could drop by around 13%, with peak-to-trough job losses of some 900,000 in the UAE, and 1.7m in Saudi Arabia.

Reliance on ex-pat workers in vulnerable sectors means the burden of job losses will fall on the ex-pat population, it mentioned. 

Combined with visas depending on employment and lack of a social safety net, an ex-pat exodus is likely to happen as the travel restrictions are eased. This could result in the population decreasing by between 4% (in Saudi Arabia and Oman) and around 10% (in the UAE and Qatar).

While an ex-pat exodus may mean that the GCC “exports” some of the impacts of the recession, it will also have some negative effect on key sectors, such as possible labour shortages as the hospitality sector recovers, an additional drag on property markets, and probable price pressures in certain quarters, the report remarked.

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