Gulfization: A Closer Look at Bahrainization

Image Caption: Bahrain’s government has taken efforts as part of Bahrainization to help Bahraini nationals succeed in the public and private sector in the face of an increasing migrant worker population.


Introduction

“Gulfization” is defined as the policy strategies that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries pursue, imposing allegedly necessary reforms in order to improve their economic development and to reach their goals of combating unemployment and inefficiency.[1] Gulfization has been actively undertaken by most countries of the GCC since the 1980s, and in 2008 the strategy even mentioned explicitly in each country’s vision for economic development. Some of the specific goals include increasing the ratio of employment in the private sector, lowering dependence on migrant workers in the labor market, and reducing the national unemployment rate.[2] This paper surveys the history of these policies and analyzes their implementation methods, and their overall impact, with particular attention to the case of Bahrain, a country with especially unique policies compared to the rest of the GCC. Ultimately, this paper finds that as the economic problems that these nationalization policies are trying to address grows more complex, in order to effectively reach the goal of such nationalization policies, the state first has to undertake certain market regulation measures to improve the efficacy of their existing initiatives and policies.

Historical background

Migration in GCC countries

During the oil boom in the 1970s, most Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries resorted to bringing in foreign workers for skilled labor, because Gulf nationals lacked the proper expertise and education. GCC governments decided not to educate and train native workforces for economic development because it would take a great deal of time; Bahrain was a notable exception, as it was one of the leaders in investment toward education in the Gulf. By resorting to short-term labor from migrant workers, GCC countries facilitated rapid construction and development of infrastructure.[3]

Subsequently, between 1975 and 1985, GCC countries experienced labor force growth at an increase of 7.7% a year, with Bahrain at 10.5% a year. By 1985, the percentage of migrant workers in the total labor force rose from 39% in 1975 to 67%. A decline in labor demand occurred in the late 1980s due to the fall in oil prices and the large number of nationals entering the workforce, although that only slightly slowed down the growth of immigration.[4]

At the end of the “oil-decade,” a period of time spanning from 1973 to 1982, during which GCC countries flourished due to the income from oil, authorities in GCC countries started to scrutinize and apply stricter control over foreign immigration because of plummeting oil prices, rising unemployment in the local workforce, costly wages and subsidies for foreign workers and their family members, and the authorities’ fear of unwanted social and cultural changes.  The first step taken was in 1984 with mass deportations of illegal migrants residing in the GCC, specifically in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE governments. Following that, GCC states limited the number of family members allowed to accompany each migrant worker to keep the number of foreigners requiring subsidies low. Other measures taken by authorities included restricting foreigners from undertaking a commercial endeavor without a national partner in most of GCC countries. This restriction resulted in the widespread phenomenon of the “silent partner”, in which the Gulf-national partner plays a minor role in a business while receiving around 51% of its revenue.[5]

Following those changes in policies regarding foreign workers, in the 1990s, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait resulted in a drastic change in Gulf demography, as the number of Arab migrants decreased sharply, and the number of Asian workers in the Gulf increased rapidly. The shift from a majority of Arab to Asian migrants was brought by changing market conditions and political reasons, including Arab labor-exporting countries’ inability to fulfill the growing demand for workers, the significantly lower Asian wage rates than those acceptable by Arab workers, and the political advantage of Asians being regarded by the GCC governments as unlikely to request citizenship or demand any other political rights.[6]

By 2000, Saudi Arabia was accredited for having one of the largest populations when compared to the other GCC states, and as of 2013 the country has a labor force participation rate of 51% in the private sector. The high rate of native Saudi participation in the private sector’s labor force results from both the restrictive way of life in Saudi Arabia that reduces the appeal of working there for most non-nationals, and the strict quota laws that require employers to abide by a certain ratio of Saudi nationals to foreign workers in the business that the high-ranking positions be held by Saudi or Gulf nationals. On the other hand, as of 2013, the UAE has a labor force participation rate of 6% for Emiratis in the private sector, as the UAE is particularly appealing to foreigners as one of the wealthiest countries in the Gulf and one of the most socially liberal; also, the UAE has a high rate of employment of Emiratis in the public sector, estimated at 73% of the national labor force in 2005.[7] Bahrain, however, maintains the most equitable ratio of nationals to non-nationals population residing in Bahrain and forming the entire workforce.[8]  However, Bahrain faces a problem here as the national participation rate in the private sector is only 17%. This aspect burdens the government with either a high unemployment rate or an overpopulated public sector to account for the 32% of working nationals not in the private sector.[9]

In a UN survey conducted in 2004 on the inflow of foreign workers to GCC countries, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE stated that the volume of migrant workers was too high, while Bahrain and Qatar felt that the inflow was satisfactory. Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and UAE issued policies to lower that inflow, including taxes on migrant workers and stricter regulations regarding visa issuance, whereas Bahrain had a “No intervention” approach, which meant that the government did not issue or enforce strict policies that aim to lower nor increase this influx.[10] However, Bahrain and Qatar with the other GCC countries soon realized the need for nationalization policies that could decrease the influx of immigrants to allow for a growing number of nationals to enter the workforce in the upcoming years, alongside the need for market diversification to lessen the dependence on the increasingly unstable oil sector. These measures became a formalized plan of action in each GCC nation’s vision to achieve by 2030.[11]

GCC countries are still among one of the most desirable destinations by migrants as migrants in GCC countries remitted 18% of the worldwide remittance to their home in 2015 alone.[12]

There are four main types of “irregular migrants.” One type enters illegally, a situation seen mostly in Saudi Arabia, due to its contiguous borders with Yemen and Iraq. The second type uses a “free visa”, the main method of visa trading, through which sponsors bring in migrant workers, and upon their arrival, they fail to provide the migrants with employment or compensation and leave them to find employment on their own, in exchange for the migrants’ paying the sponsors a certain annual sum. The third type occurs when the sponsor terminates the migrant’s work permit, allowing a popular method of visa trading. The migrant workers first pay the sponsor a fee through intermediaries to grant them legal entry into the country. Once the migrants have entered, the sponsor cancels their permits or visas, which leaves migrants a period of one month in Bahrain to find another job or be deported. Implementation of deportation laws in the GCC countries is different as it is perceived to be strict in UAE but less strict in Bahrain. This type can also include expiry of work permit as the employer simply neglected or chose not to pay and renew the worker’s permit. The last type is where a worker “escapes,” or fails to show up for work for a period of time. As soon as the sponsor reports them missing, the sponsor also cancels their permit so that the sponsor is no longer held responsible for this person.[13]

Nationalization Policies in the GCC

Historical Approaches in the GCC

The GCC countries can be categorized into two categories according to their policy approach to the proportionally high unemployment rate of nationals. The first category includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who took a more administrative and market-based approach, emphasizing stricter implementation of existing regulations and laws regarding nationalization policies. Bahrain falls into the second category, which also includes Oman; these countries took more of a vocational training or educational approach.

In the period from 1975 to the 2000s, nationals’ unemployment grew over time persistently. The unemployment growth rate averaged between 7.5% in UAE and 2.1% in Saudi Arabia, while Bahrain had 5% unemployment rate growth on average.[14] In order to decrease the demand for and supply of cheap labor offered by foreign workers, various GCC governments in the period spanning from 1999 to 2005 imposed direct and indirect taxes on migrant workers, detained and deported over-stayers and illegals, put forth stricter regulations on visa issuance in foreign countries, and enforced laws against visa trading on a stricter basis.[15]

To increase the private sector’s demand for Bahraini nationals, Bahraini authorities provided vocational training for nationals and enhanced the private sector’s benefits, and similar practices were also implemented by other GCC countries in turn. However, the public sector remained the major employer of nationals, due to the public sector’s job security, higher wages, less demanding work, and more benefits than entry-level jobs in the private sector. Increasingly, GCC governments felt the need to absorb unemployed nationals into the public sector. This not only created and reinforced GCC nationals’ conception that a job in the public sector is a natural born right, but also led to overstaffing of the public sector and decreased productivity overall. According to a 2015 survey, Bahraini graduates have the highest preference for private sector employment amongst the GCC countries’ graduates as 60% of them attested to preferring the private sector. Bahrainis are the only GCC citizens that prefer private sector employment more than the public sector. The Bahrainis’ preference to private sector employment can be attributed to the mobility the private sector offers, along with the comparative benefits, as Bahrain’s public sector does not compare well to its neighboring countries with regards to high paying public sector jobs, with the exception of high-ranking political appointees.[16] Thus, one of the major obstacles to the efficacy of nationalization policies in the private sector, specifically the citizens’ attitudes towards preferring public sector employment over private sector employment, does not prevail in the Bahraini context.

Authorities in the GCC also took further measures to impose nationalization of the public sector labor force by imposing quotas for expatriates and nationals, restricting the recruitment of expatriates in certain sectors, and enforcing immigration legislation.[17] Companies circumvented these by using “ghost workers,” or nationals that are officially registered as employed by the government but are not in practice employed, which created employment only on paper. The response of the private sector highlights the practical difficulties of implementing such policies, as the private sector employer finds that these policies are hurdles to attaining their own goals of efficiency and maximum productivity, due to the aforementioned stigma and lack of qualifications of the nationals.[18]

Both market-based and law enforcement-based approaches, show little in effect in regards to decreasing the influx of immigrants nor increasing the GCC nationals’ participation rate in the private sector. The Saudi example of implementing and critically enforcing quota laws on private corporations was successful in its own context, but for other countries like Bahrain they may yield more consequences than benefits. Bahrain sees the quota law as a tool that might jeopardize the state of its economy by deterring foreign investment, which could easily go toward another closer, larger, and less regulated market, such as the UAE. In addition, nationals still often were not adequately trained for required skills demanded by private employers, and forcing private enterprises to employ unqualified nationals would further discourage them from investing in Bahrain. Due to the lack of nationalization progress in Bahrain, the Bahraini government restructured its formal plan towards market nationalization policies to be more well-rounded, with educational and training approaches, market-based approaches, and immigration policy reforms.[19]

Training and educational investment

A massive problem arises from the gap of the quality of higher education in the GCC and the market’s needs. The GCC as of 1995 onwards began to respond by investing more in higher education by allocating a percentage of their budgets towards education, as high as 25.6% in Saudi Arabia and as low as 11.7% in Bahrain in 2010, adopting international models within their educational systems, and fully allowing private investment in education, which resulted in the establishment of many private higher education institutions affiliated with international partners. However, as institutions of higher education attraction of investors has led to further lowering the overall quality of education, due to the investors’ fixation on profitability and international accreditation rather than producing graduates suitable for the GCC labor market. The investors alongside the GCC governments resorted to relying on importing teaching materials from foreign universities through models of affiliation, which resulted in a widening gap between national universities’ output and the local labor market needs. These imported materials were not tailored to the GCC’s own market needs[20]. The skills deficiency strained the GCC economy and strengthened the dependency on foreign workers.[21]

In order to tackle this problem, Bahrain emphasized a more qualitative approach towards investments in vocational and applied learning institutions, establishing Bahrain Polytechnic University in 2009. The UAE and Qatar did the same in 2003 and 2011 respectively.[22] However, recent studies show that the satisfaction rate of private sector employers toward the curricula of educational institutions is only 16%, as most of them believe that the skills learned in these educational institutions do not meet their demands nor needs. Some of the skills demanded but not received by employers include stress and time management, innovation, and adaptability. However, these crucial soft skills are not present in the existing curriculum nor encouraged by teaching methods.[23] Furthermore, a high unemployment rate persists: in 2014, the unemployment rate was at 29% in Bahrain and is predicted to rise to 31% in 2018, while in contrast, in the UAE and Qatar the rate of unemployment sits at 10% and 2% respectively as of 2014 with a predicted incline of 1-2% in 2018.[24] This statistical discrepancy indicates a problem in Bahrain’s implementation of the approach towards educational and training investments when compared to its counterparts.

The number of educated nationals increased from 3.2% enrolled in tertiary education in 1980  to 27.9% in early 2000s and 46.6% in 2016, yet there appears to be an inconsistency in the results of the relation between education and unemployment.[25] Al-Qudsi, in his study of the evolution of unemployment in the GCC, has found an increase in the unemployment rate for those who finished secondary education. In Bahrain specifically, the unemployment rate for the recipients of secondary education rose to 51% in 2001 from only 17% in 1981. The unemployment rate of university graduates also rose to 8% from only 3% in Bahrain.[26] These results are attributed to the insufficiency of the educational system in better equipping a national workforce that is attractive to the private sector. A more recent study by Reji Nair regarding graduate employability has shown that the higher education investment from GCC states has not positively impacted the performance level of graduates. The problem can easily be solved by early exposure of students to the employment realities through work placement and internships, where such culture in the Gulf does not appear to be prevalent. Behavioral factors making GCC youth unattractive to private employers include lack of communication skills, discipline, and commitment. These can be remedied again by early exposure to work environment.[27]

A predominant cultural factor, the “wasta” effect, has also curbed the positive effects of the educational investment in both Bahrain and the GCC countries. Wasta is defined as “using networks and connections for favorable outcomes,” and the phenomenon is present throughout Arab society.[28] A study done in 2015 found that “Wasta” affect both the educational output and the employability of nationals. In the field of education, wasta can secure a person’s admission to university and grant them favorable treatment by the administration or faculty. Wasta also impact the hiring and promotion of faculty, which may adversely affect the quality of education if hiring a faculty member was solely conducted based on wasta and not merit.[29] The effect of wasta on education suggests that investment in education alone does not provide the expected results of nationalization policies in terms of equity and employment opportunities.

Kafala system and immigration policies

The “Kafala” or sponsorship system has roots in Arabian Gulf countries since the 1950’s with the aim to regulate the relationship between the employers and the migrant workers. In “kafala,” the migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to the employer or sponsor for the period of their contract, as migrants “cannot enter the country, transfer employment nor leave the country for any reason without first obtaining explicit written permission from the sponsor.”[30] The sponsor often also exercises further control over the migrant worker by confiscating their passport and travel documents, and this is legal per the law in GCC countries. Originally, the Kafala system had the clear goal of providing temporary, rotating labor that could be promptly brought into the country during periods of economic boom and expelled in less affluent periods. The Kafala immigration system seemed to achieve its primary goals, though as early as the late 1980s some problems manifested: a large population of illegal migrant workers accrued into the 1990s, because private recruitment agencies made use of fraudulent sponsorship documents. As a result, newly arrived migrant workers resorted to irregular employment; some employers were unwilling to expel their workers due to legal technicalities, so many migrant workers became semi-permanent. The Kafala system allows for extensive abuse of migrant workers’ employment rights, due to “the lack of secure legal status and enforcement mechanisms.”[31]

The Kafala system actually contributes to making nationals less desirable by private employers, due to their abilities to move freely and bargain. Moreover, nationals are protected by the government in issues ranging from wage and dismissal to employment benefits, while foreign laborers are not. The long-standing Kafala system has also reinforced the belief that nationals are less productive and unmanageable compared to migrant workers.[32] Thus, the Kafala system is a double-edged sword, because the practice harms non-nationals by exposing them to exploitation and nationals by dismissing their employment and averting any noticeable positive impact of nationalization efforts.

Analysis of Bahrainization policies

First generation of Bahrainization policies

After the economic boom in 1970s, Bahrain favored its nationals by providing them with a variety of welfare programs and enacted further Bahrainization policies.[33] These policies focused on four elements: limiting the supply of foreign workers, creating jobs for nationals, job protection for nationals, and decreasing the unemployment rate of Bahrainis.[34] A Ford Foundation report in 1974 estimated that these policies would increase the Bahraini participation rate in the workforce to 68% by 1980, even though the oil crisis witnessed a couple of months after the report caused the percentage of Bahraini participation rate in the workforce to drop from 62.7% in 1970s to 42.6% in 1980s.[35][36]

The first Bahrainization policy began in the early 1980s with the Bahraini government launching its “Project 10,000”, a training and employment scheme targeting the increased placement of young Bahrainis in private sector jobs. In mid-1980s, the “Strategic Choices Committee” was introduced with the aim to finding solutions for the emerging unemployment problems amid Bahrainis. This was noted as the first occasion in which labor market issues were addressed with a strategic framework in Bahrain. The program was further modified in 1989 to enact a five-year Bahrainization plan based on a structured process for the creation of new jobs in different economic sectors. Subsequently, in 1994, a quota law was passed, imposing a 5% annual increase in the number of Bahrainis employed in the private sector.[37] Similar measures were adopted in Saudi and yielded negative reactions from private employers which were also related to Bahrain, such as nationals’ having high expectations regarding wages while being unequipped with necessary vocational skills, employers viewing nationals as “less controllable” than foreigners under contracts, and businesses’ lack of experience in training and supervising national workers.[38]

Regarding irregular immigration, Bahrain responded with three main laws regarding immigrants, governing the entry, exit and residence of foreigners and their relations with their work sponsor. The main piece of legislation is the Aliens Immigration and Residence Act of 1965.[39] This Act had barely any effect on the actual inflow of migrant workers and had no noticeable effect on irregular migration as had to be readdressed in the second generation of Bahrainization policies.

Second generation of Bahrainization policies

At the dawn of the 2000s, the Bahraini government initiated reforms that shifted the emphasis of its nationalization policies to better address immigration issues and to invest more in education and training, rather than focusing on market-based and administrative approaches.

Tamkeen

The Tamkeen fund’s purpose is to train and educate Bahraini in order to give them a competitive edge against foreign workers for jobs in the private sector. The research done by Subhadra Gandguli and Reem Hameed Matar indicate that during the years of 2014 and 2015, Bahrain witnessed the increase of Bahrainis’ employability at 2.5% each year, although at the same time, foreign employability increased by 3.2% in 2014 and by 7.7% in 2015. These numbers raise serious questions regarding the efficacy of such training and educational programs. The attitudes of the public regarding such programs reflect a lack of faith towards the programs’ usefulness, as a number of program graduates and participants felt like the outcome still did not meet the expectations of the employer and did not advance them in their careers in the respective companies.[40] The investment in education in Bahrain does not seem to influence employers in the private sector to hire Bahrainis at a higher rate.[41]

The training and educational programs implemented in Bahrain produced more highly educated nationals, and yet they did not perceptibly improve the employability of nationals in the private sector. One of the reasons for these programs’ lack of success stems from the heightened expectations of nationals toward private sector salaries, as many Bahrainis now expected to receive a higher level job with their Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate’s degree and not start at an entry-level job. Furthermore, there existed a weak link between the knowledge and skills taught in educational institutions and the workplace ethics, knowledge, and skills needed and desired by private sector employers.[42]

Immigration policies reform

In the early 2000s, Bahrain and Oman enacted reforms that allowed for some increased mobility of foreign workers under the Kafala system. Non-nationals could now switch jobs even without the consent of their current sponsor. Contrary to the original objectives of the reforms, high-skilled professionals became more likely to undertake these actions rather than low-skilled workers,. Also, wages for foreigners increased during the inflation in 2008 and intensified the competitiveness of nationals against the non-nationals for employment.[43]

In 2001, Bahrain’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs launched a program that combined both employee training programs and wage subsidies for employers who hire Bahrainis. The efficiency of subsidy programs stems from the upward pressure they apply on incomes, which has a propensity to increase the cost of labor and reduce labor demand. Additionally, the policy can lead to “crowding-out or displacement” of workers.[44][45] Assessing the Bahrainization policies’ impact returns unsatisfying results, as the reforms did not significantly reduce the unemployment of Bahrainis or accomplish the objective of protecting Bahrainis from losing their jobs.[46]

As the public sector became the major employer of Bahraini citizens, the private sector filled its new jobs by hiring foreigners.[47] Besides, Wasta has an outstanding impact in the public sector in Bahrain, especially in employment and job security. As a result, the people who are in important public sector posts are underqualified to formulate policies, make decisions, and lead teams.[48] As a result, the public sector workforce’s incompetency massively affects the fulfilment of nationalization aims.

To address the problem of irregular migrants, the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), which is “a government body with a corporate identity that is endowed with full financial and administrative independence under the authority of a board of directors duly chaired by the Minister of Labor,” was charged with the responsibility of managing all issues regarding migrant workers in the labor market, which includes issuing work permits and collecting fees and fines.[49] In 2012, Law 36 of 2012, issuing the Labor Law for the Private Sector, replaced the 1976 labor law and set legal conditions to regulate employer-employee relations. The law was regarded as a “progressive piece of legislation,” as it included domestic workers. However, the law did not set any new regulations, nor was it implemented properly to benefit irregular migrants or nationals seeking jobs in the private sector, because those that engaged in illegal visa trading practices were highly influential officials and businessmen.[50]

In 2009, Bahrain announced that it would dismantle the Kafala system by establishing the LMRA, although the LMRA ended up only regulating the work process and post-recruitment without making changes to the existing system or any legislation.[51] In July 2017, the LMRA announced the launching of the new “Flexi Permit.”[52]

The Flexi Permit as defined by the LMRA is “a renewable two year permit which allows the eligible person to work and live in the Kingdom of Bahrain without an employer (Sponsor) where he can work in any job with any number of employers on full or part-time basis.”[53] The permit costs the foreign worker around 449 Bahraini Dinars (around $1190) and also requires a monthly fee of 30 Bahraini Dinars ($79.50). There are two types of this permit: The Flexi Permit, which allows the holder to work in any “non-specialized” jobs and prevents employment in hotels, restaurants, and bars, and the Flexi Hospitality Permit, which allows the holder to work in any non-specialized jobs and allows the holder to work in hotels, restaurants, and bars. The eligibility criteria only includes expatriates who possess terminated work permits or those with an expired work permit that has not been renewed by their employer.[54]

The Flexi Permit neither completely banishes the Kafala system nor has had a great impact on the efficacy of nationalization policies. The LMRA emphasizes the restriction of the holders of these permits to non-specialized jobs, which seems to be a rather vague term that is open to interpretation. While the Flexi Permit may fix the problem of a large segment of foreign workers residing in Bahrain illegally, it may further worsen unemployment for nationals, as the permit lifts former restrictions on foreigners residing with expired permits that had kept them from seeking employment. The Flexi Permit also fails to remove the role of a sponsor in the system, as the foreign worker still needs a sponsor to enter the country, and then the LMRA simply takes on the role of a sponsor from that point onwards. The LMRA database states that there has been a reduction in the number of new work visas issued this past year by 32.4%. However, this change cannot be directly attributed to the new Flexi Permit; instead, the increase by 5.1% in work visa termination may be attributed to the Flexi Permit, due to termination being a condition for the migrant’s worker eligibility.[55]

The most recent statistics show a decline of 1.5% in Bahraini national employment during the second quarter of 2017, with an increase of 1.9% in the employment of non-nationals.[56] The government of Bahrain recognizes that irregular migration has a negative impact on the employability of nationals, as it has initiated a variety of measures to separate irregular migrants from nationals and limit their numbers. Bahrain’s government possess the legal ability to crack down on visa traders and employers of the irregular migrants, though it seldom exercises its right and power to do so, due to the lack of pressure from citizens on the government to take action. Another reason is that the citizens often are the largest beneficiaries of irregular migration, as they bring down prices of services due to their cheap labor.[57]

The demand for migrant workers needs to be addressed more efficiently, as it is one of the root problems for the unemployment of nationals. Two factors positively affect the demand for migrant workers: the economic need for the migrants’ skills and the attractive low wages given by the “hidden market” whereby migrant workers, especially low-skilled workers, are often exploited by means of wage or living conditions. Therefore, Bahrain critically needs to implement further reforms to raise the skill level of its native population and to protect foreign workers from exploitation. This includes imposing a minimum wage, restricting working hours to eight and ensuring they get paid for overtime.

Conclusion

The approach for the nationalization of labor taken by the Bahraini government still needs reforms with regards to closing the skills gap and alleviating the abuse of migrant labor. The former can be done through the cooperation of the government and the private sector’s human resources managers to address the certain lacking points of educational programs at universities and to formulate a cohesive plan to address each problem efficiently. For the latter goal, the non-interference approach the government used to take towards immigration policies still persists, and while the Flexi Permit issuance might be a solution for one problem of migrant abuse, the reform may cause more harm in the long-run towards nationalization attempts, as the reform creates a more competitive environment for nationals for any job that is non-specialized, a term that remains vague and widely interpreted. The failure of past immigration reform and the massive influx of migrant workers in the 1970s and 80s still impact the economy and the rate of national participation in the workforce. A government favored by natural resource abundance did not consider the rate of national employment in an ever-changing global market until it was too late, and the consequences of the high rate of nationals’ unemployment will only continue without adequate government reform.


About the Author

Ola Abdulla is from Bahrain and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration with a minor in International Law at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She is interested in Public Policy and International Law, alongside a special interest in the work of non-governmental organizations in the MENA region.


Endnotes

[1] La’aleh Al-Aali. “Nationalization: A case from the Middle East “Kingdom of Bahrain”.” (PhD diss., University of Manchester, 2014) 14.

[2] Al-Aali, 12-14.

[3] Martin Baldwin-Edwards, Labour Immigration and Labour Markets in the GCC Countries: National Patterns and Trends (London: London’s School of Economics, 2011), 7-8.

[4] Baldwin-Edwards, 8-10.

[5] Onn Winckler, “The Immigration Policy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States”. Middle Eastern Studies 33, no. 3 (1997): 483-485.

[6] Winckler, 487-488.

[7] Steffen Hertog, “A comparative assessment of labor market nationalization policies in the GCC.” In National employment, migration and education in the GCC, ed. Steffen Hertog. (Berlin: Gerlach Press, 2012).

[8] Sasha Hadgson and Darren Hanson, “Enforcing Nationalization in the GCC: Private sector progress, strategy and policy for suitable nationalization.” Middle East Journal of Business 9, no. 2 (April 2014), 18.

[9] “Labour Market Indicators – Core Data” Labour Market Regulatory Authority. Accessed November 2017. http://blmi.lmra.bh/2017/06/mi_data.xml

[10] “Labour Market Indicators – Core Data” Labour Market Regulatory Authority. Accessed November 2017. http://blmi.lmra.bh/2017/06/mi_data.xml

[11] Hadgson and Hanson, 17-19.

[12] Philippe Fargues, “Irregular Migration – Has It a Future in the Gulf?” in Skillful Survivals: Irregular Migration to the Gulf, ed. Philippe Fargues and Nasra Shah (Cambridge: Gulf Research Center Cambridge, 2017), 338.

[13] Hasan Alhasan, “Irregular Migration in Bahrain: Legislation, Policies, and Practices.” in Skilful Survivals: Irregular Migration to the Gulf, ed. Philippe Fargues and Nasra Shah (Cambridge: Gulf Research Center Cambridge, 2017) 80 – 83.

[14] Sulayman Al-Qudsi, Unemployment Evolution in the GCC Economies: Its Nature and Relationship to Output Gaps. (Dubai: Center for Labor Market Research and Information, 2006), 1-9.

[15] Shah, Restrictive Labour Immigration. 4-8.

[16] Reji Nair, “Graduate Employability and Educational Sector in GCC Countries: A Macro Level Study.” Asian Journal of Management Sciences and Education 6, no. 2 (2017): 83-91.

[17] Shah, Restrictive Labour Immigration, 9-10.

[18] Al-Qudsi, 41-42.

[19] Al-Aali, 15-35.

[20] Khalid Al-Ruwaihi,”Corporate Universities in the GCC: The Necessity for Custom-Designed Market-Driven Higher Education Institutions in the 21st Century.” in Challenges to Education in the GCC during the 21st Century, ed. Ahmar Mahboob and Tariq Elyas, (Cambridge: Gulf Research Center Cambridge, 2017) 52-56.

[21] Al-Ruwaihi, 58-59.

[22] Al-Ruwaihi, 51-58.

[23] Nair, 89-91.

[24] Nair, 82.

[25] “School enrollment, tertiary (% gross)” UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Accessed June, 2018. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.TER.ENRR?locations=BH.

[26] Al-Qudsi, 8-9.

[27] Nair, 87-91

[28] Magdalena Karolak, “Quality-Oriented Education and Workforce Reform: The Impact of Wasta (Case Study of Bahrain).” in The Political Economy of Wasta: Use and Abuse of Social Capital Networking, ed. Mohamed Ramady, (Berlin: Springer, 2015) 146.

[29] Karolak, 148-156.

[30] Migrant Forum in Asia, Reform of the Kafala (Sponsorship) system. (Quezon City: International Labor Organization, 2013). http://www.ilo.org/dyn/migpractice/docs/132/PB2.pdf.

[31] Baldwin-Edwards, 36-38.

[32] Steffen Hertog, Arab Gulf States: An Assessment of Nationalisation Policies. (Geneva: Gulf Research Center, 2014) 5-7.

[33] Kasim Randeree, Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States. (Doha: Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, 2012) 16.

[34] Mohammed Dito, Migration Policies and Challenges in the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Cairo: The American University in Cairo, 2007) 7.

[35] Mohammed Dito, Migration Policies and Challenges in the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Cairo: The American University in Cairo, 2007) 7.

[36] Dito, 5.

[37] Randeree, 15-17.

[38] Winckler, 485-486.

[39] Alhasan, 83.

[40] Subhadra Ganguli and Reem Hameed Matar. “A sample survey analysis of the effectiveness of training and development initiatives in Bahrain’s financial sector on employability of Bahraini nationals in 2015.” World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development 12, no. 4 (2016): 362-371.

[41] Mohamed Alseddiqi, Rakesh Mishra, and Crinela Pislaru. “Identification of skills gap between school-based learning and work-based learning in technical and vocational education in Bahrain.” In Proceedings of Computing and Engineering Annual Researchers’ Conference, Huddersfield, 2009, 118-123. (Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield).

[42] Nair, 83-94.

[43] Hertog, “An Assessment of Nationalisation Policies.” 10-14.

[44] Randeree, 17.

[45] Al-Qudsi, 40-41

[46] Dito, 5-11.

[47] Hertog, “An Assessment of Nationalisation Policies.” 5-8.

[48] Karolak, 156-158.

[49] “Our Mandate.” Labour Market Regulatory Authority.  Accessed July 22, 2018 http://lmra.bh/portal/en/page/show/56.

[50] Alhasan, 83-90.

[51] Migrant Forum in Asia

[52] Labor Market Regulatory Authority. “Labor Market launches the flexible work permit, 2000 permits per month”. Labour Market Regulatory Authority (blog). July 10, 2017. http://blog.lmra.bh/en/2017/07/10/labor-market-launches-the-flexible-work-permit-2000-permits-per-month/.

[53] “Flexi Permit.”  Labour Market Regulatory Authority. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://lmra.bh/portal/en/page/show/325

[54] “Flexi Permit”

[55] “Bahrain Labour Market Indicators.” Labour Market Regulatory Authority. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://blmi.lmra.bh/2017/06/mi_dashboard.xml

[56] “Bahrain Labour Market Indicators

[57] Alhasan, 78- 79.


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