GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Towards a post-rentier structure of labour market governance in the GCC: A Comparative Analysis of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
Throughout the GCC states, a number of significant policy reforms coincide with significant changes in their socio-economic trajectories. This is especially evident in the employment domain where a rapidly increasing labour force challenges the capacity of the GCC domestic labour markets to provide employment. With increasing unemployment rates, combined with a burgeoning young population, of whom some are well educated, seeking first-time employment, this puts strain on labour markets that traditionally were characterized by high levels of inactivity, a low skills base for the native population, the substantial presence - if not prevalence - of migrant labour, and extensive segmentation and inequalities across wage and gender lines. Against this background, the political implications for the future political stability and regime legitimacy in GCC states are easy to imagine and the challenges ahead are substantial. Policies aiming to sustainably increase the capacity of domestic labour markets to provide employment to GCC populations are currently developed in a context where the GCC countries have to navigate their repositioning in the global economic architecture by diversifying their economies and reorganizing their socio-political formations towards ‘post-rentier governance structures’ (Ulrichsen, 2012). Against this background, this policy-focused article will explore how GCC governments attempt to transform their political economies by comparatively analysing recent labour market reforms in three GCC states, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The article will comprise three parts. The first will be a critical review of relevant literature, with emphasis on the emergence of Post-Rentier governance structures in the GCC, as well as discussing the region’s main socio-economic and employment trends. The second part will be a comparative analysis of similarities and differences in policy reforms with particular reference to the Nationalization policies and the Kafala System. The third part will discuss the implications of these reforms in terms of the transition towards post-rentier structures of labour market governance in the GCC. The article will highlight the marked diversity within the regionally adopted policies and, thus, contribute to our understanding of the emerging variety of post-rentier politico-economies in the region and their likely future developmental paths.

Ulrichsen, Kristian Coates, ed. (2012) The political economy Of Arab Gulf states. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK