Unlike migration in many parts of the world, foreign workers in the Gulf region were subject to the ‘Conditional Migrant Integration Model’ to avoid granting of certain rights that would alter the prevalent socio-economic-political fabric. This ensured that expatriates remain in a state of “permanent impermanence”. However, amid a combination of factors—transition from oil to post-oil economy, economic slowdown, and intra-regional economic competition—Covid-19 has served as a disruptor of the rules of engagement between the regional governments and the expatriate population, including women. Recognizing the benefits of retaining talented and wealthy expatriates, some of the Gulf countries have rolled out multiple strategies, including reforming the Kafala system, offering longer durations of residence, and even potential citizenship, which is viewed as “conditional inclusion”. Using a combination of empirical data from secondary sources, laced with anecdotal evidence, this research paper delves into these changes, analyzes their impact on the future of Gulf expatriates and their contracts with their governments, assesses the impact on the delicate citizen-expatriate alignment, as well as the contradictions in some of these measures, especially nationalization of the workforce.
Pandemic Recalibrates Rules of Engagement for Gulf Expatriates.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 23(3), 122-135.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss3/9