GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
AKM Ahsan
Title of Paper:
Irregular Migration to the Gulf Is combatting it a governance challenge?
Paper Proposal Text :
The economic landscape of the GCC countries has been shaped by migration. The GCC region is the most popular destination for temporary labor migrants from Asian sending countries. The biggest employer of foreign workers in the Gulf by sheer numbers is Saudi Arabia with almost 9.4 million legal foreign workers. Anecdotes suggest that between two and three million migrants are staying and working without any proper document. Of about 8 million Bangladeshi migrants worldwide, one-third (about 2.58 million) joined the labor market of Saudi Arabia. A significant size of Bangladeshi irregular migrants (IM) constitute the pool of irregular migrants in Saudi Arabia. The country has been experiencing exponential growth in the number of irregular migrants, which has become a major concern for the government. The harsh policy in place and cooperation from sending country government appeared insufficient to combat irregular migration. Poor governance of the sending countries has contributed to the irregular migration. This paper looks into how governance failed to combat this growing phenomenon in Saudi Arabia.

This paper is based on a qualitative study conducted between 2011 and 2014 on government departments and ministries, and registered travel agents dealing with sending migrant workers abroad. Interviews were conducted on a select of 30 officials and 45 Bangladeshi irregular migrants in Saudi Arabia by administering a well-designed checklist.

No precise data on the number of irregular migrants is available. A number of factors are into play to push them ending up being irregular migrant. There are a significant number of IM who went to Saudi Arabia on Umrah and Hajj visa and stayed-put, some of them were left in the Kingdom by some government officials, some were left by some music band and some over-stayed their tourist visa. Some of them absconded and some abandoned abusive employers who withheld or confiscated their travel documents. Government’s poor overseeing and reluctance to combat IM in dealing with sending migrants is evident. This research carries crucial policy implications for both origin and destination countries because irregular migration poses security concern to the state and exposes migrants themselves to insecurity, abuse and exploitation.