Freedom of work, travel for GCC citizens and expats mooted

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Expatriates living in the GCC countries may be granted the freedom to travel, reside and work in any of the six member states from next November, according to a report published by Al-Eqtisadiah business daily on Wednesday.

The GCC labor ministers are scheduled to meet in Kuwait in November to discuss the freedom of work, residence and movement for both their citizens and expatriates.

Hind Al-Subaih, Kuwait’s minister of social affairs and labor, said the ministers are presently studying a number of decisions and the results of their deliberations will be known before the end of the year.

She said the decisions would concern the provision of work opportunities for GCC citizens and the freedom of movement, residence and work for expatriates.

She said the issue of the freedom of travel, work and residence is still being considered individually by each of the six countries’ labor ministries.

“The proposals cover both the GCC citizens and expatriates living and working in the six member countries,” she said.

However, officials concerned with the nationalization of jobs in the GCC have expressed fears of allowing expatriates to move freely, reside and work in these countries.

They said such a move might have adverse implications on their job nationalization programs.

Secretary general of the federation of GCC commerce chambers, Abdul Rahim Taqi, warned against giving expatriates the opportunity to move freely and work in any of the GCC countries.

He said: “The time is not yet ripe for this step. “The priority in this regard should be first given to the GCC citizens.”

Fawzi Al-Magdili, secretary of manpower in Kuwait, expressed similar fears.

“Giving expatriates the freedom to move, reside and work in the GCC countries may hit hard these countries’ job nationalization programs,” he said.

He asked for conducting more intensive studies before approving this step, which may increase competition for jobs between GCC citizens and expatriates.

 
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