Monday, May 24, 2021
Future of Working in the Gulf in Spotlight as Senior Officials from GCC and Asia Meet for Abu Dhabi Dialogue
Key labour market trends in the GCC will be in the spotlight this week, as Member States of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue met today to discuss new research on the future of labour migration in the Gulf-Asia region.
Addressing the opening of the online meeting of Senior Officials of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, H.E. Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Communications and International Relations, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, called on Member States to put evidence-based policy making at the heart of future collaboration between governments.
The Abu Dhabi Dialogue was established in 2008 as a forum for Ministers and senior policy makers to discuss key issues relating to temporary labour migration between Gulf and Asian countries. Members consist of governments from the six GCC countries, in addition to governments from twelve countries from across east and south Asia.
The Senior Officials Meeting will take place over the course of this coming week. Central to their agenda is the discussion of eleven new research papers that have been commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Dialogue from academics and researchers.
These papers shed new insights on four key themes under consideration by officials: the impact of the future of work on labour supply and demand, the use of technology in improving labour governance, testing workers prior to their deployment to the Gulf, and integrating regional and global dialogues on migration.
Efforts to address these issues will have a significant impact on the future for migrant workers in the Gulf region.
Over the past two and a half decades, a high level of inter-dependency on temporary migrant labour has emerged in the Gulf and Asia. Gulf countries host the world’s highest proportion of foreign workers to all workers (35.6%) – or 11.7% of all migrant workers worldwide. According to World Bank figures, approximately USD $98 billion is remitted annually from GCC countries, making a major contribution to Asian development.
However, as the new research papers - from international organisations including the OECD, the ILO and IOM – show, due to strategies in Gulf countries to diversify their economies, a transition away from low-cost and labour-intensive industries is underway.
Consequences for migrant workers across the region include, in particular, demands for new skills, notably in ICT and STEM fields, enabling workers to understand and master new technologies, as they become available. At the same time, soft skills, including knowledge of English, will become equally important.
Opening the meeting, Mr Al Nuaimi said, “We are entering a new era of economic growth, both in Asia and the Gulf, with major changes underway due to new technologies and the increasing role of women in society. If we are to ensure that our responses to these changes are effective, then it is vital that the decisions that we make are based on solid evidence and grounded in research.
“The Abu Dhabi Dialogue plays a key role in the management of temporary migrant workers in our countries and helps to build trust and cooperation between our governments. As we move into this new era of economic change, it will continue to be a valued platform allowing us to work together on new challenges and to seek new opportunities.”
The Senior Officials Meeting will also identify an incoming Chair, to take over from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is Chairing the Abu Dhabi Dialogue process over a two-year period, ending in 2022. Both Nepal and Pakistan have put forward their candidacies.