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Will nationalization policies in Saudi Arabia impact migrants and remittance flows?

Kirsten Schuettler's picture

Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of migrants in the Gulf region. The country is the second largest remittance sender after the USA. A new Saudization program since 2011, the so-called “Nitaqat program”, seeks to increase the number of Saudi nationals employed in the private sector. Will this have an impact on migrants and remittance outflows from Saudi Arabia? 

Economic Outlook for the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2014: A Goldilocks Moment?

Farrukh Iqbal's picture
Kuwait
From Flickr

The World Bank’s latest Quarterly Economic Brief for the MENA region warns that short term prospects for many countries in the region are poor.  For reasons related to ongoing political turmoil, these countries face high fiscal and current account deficits and are not undertaking structural reforms that could make things better in the medium run.    On the other hand, one part of the region, the hydrocarbon-rich members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), faces a much rosier short term economic outlook.  This is of some consolation because the GCC economies account for almost half the region’s GDP and have a significant impact on some neighboring economies (including Egypt, Jordan and Yemen) through financial transfers related to remittances, tourism, foreign investment and aid.

Explaining the Recent Decline in Remittances in Bangladesh

Zahid Hussain's picture

Migrant workers sent $6.77 billion home to Bangladesh in July-December, down 8.41% from the same time a year ago. For the first time in recent memory, Bangladesh has experienced a decline in remittances in the first half of the fiscal year.

There are four factors that can potentially account for the decline in remittances: the stock of Bangladeshi migrants abroad, earnings per migrant worker, their average propensity to save, and their average propensity to remit money home out of those savings.

The standard refrain appears to be that the flow of remittance has declined because the stock of Bangladeshi migrants abroad is not growing like it used to. This is because of two reasons. First, Bangladesh is failing to send more workers abroad to traditional markets and exploring new markets. Only 450,000 migrants managed oversees jobs in 2013, down by more than 33% from 680,000 in 2012. Second, the number of migrant workers returning to Bangladesh has also increased because the government could not resolve problems related to the legal status of Bangladeshi migrant labors in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait through diplomatic channels. Unfortunately, there is no reliable time series on the annual number of migrant returnees from abroad.

Is that the full story?  I doubt it although it is generally assumed that the current migrant workers are sending money home as per their maximum capacities and have little capacity to increase the flow.

Infrastructure Projects to fuel GCC Migrant Remittances

Y. Sudhir Kumar Shetty's picture

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states comprising of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait & Oman, have gained a unique status from the perspective of migration and the international mobility of labor. What makes the Region distinctive is the fact that migrant population forms a majority of inhabitants.

While the finding of oil resulted in substantial wealth creation for these countries, Governments understood that oil wealth must be used to build a strong post-oil economy. This led to Gulf countries launching ambitious large-scale modern infrastructure projects. A major requirement for implementing this plan was the availability of work force. This was addressed by importing both skilled and unskilled workers from the developing countries, particularly Asia.