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16-04-2012 - Gulfnews

Qatar to retain highly skilled expat workers

Highly skilled expatriates will not be asked to leave Qatar even if a five-year residency cap is imposed on foreigners, a senior labour officialhas said.

"The labour market strategy is based on retaining skilled expatriates in order to benefit from their expertise," said Mohammad Al Ubaidily, the director of the legal affairs at the labour ministry.

"Visas are renewed by the interior ministry, but we stress the need to keep skilled foreigners in Qatar," he said in an interview published by local Arabic daily Al Arab on Sunday.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been considering imposing a five-year residency cap on the millions of foreigners, mainly unskilled workers from Asia, seeking lucrative employment opportunities in the region.

Proponents of the idea argue that the presence of around 15 million foreigners settling in the six-member alliance had negative impact on the local culture and living traditions, likening it to a time bomb.

Officials warned that the massive presence has led to the emergence of subcultures and threats to social, economic and political features of the Gulf.

However, the residency cap move proposed mainly by labour ministries has been staunchly resisted by the powerful business communities that have argued that it would disrupt the economic status-quo and would result in business chaos.

Saudi Arabia last May said that it would put a six-year cap on the residency of foreigners in the country.

The decision was part of ten programmes the Saudi government is planning to implement in order to regulate the local labour market, Adel Al Faqih reportedly said.

According to the minister, the reforms will help tackle the black market for employment visas to the rate of 99 per cent and will boost employment opportunities for Saudis and increase their competitive edge.

Around eight million expatriates work in Saudi Arabia.


Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights