GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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High skilled professionals in the GCC: Migration policies and Government outlook
Paper Proposal Text :
The long-term National visions of the GCC states unanimously aim at economically developing their countries and transforming them into knowledge-based economies. In order for these countries to achieve this objective, it is critical that they continue to attract high skilled professionals with the right expertise and know-how in sectors such as academia, science, healthcare and many others, to transform the country. Over the past few years, these countries have also adopted policies towards reducing the inflow of low skilled and semi-skilled migrants into their countries. However, when it comes to high skilled professionals, the National Vision 2030 of Qatar (GSDP, Qatar National Vision 2030) explicitly states that although it wishes to reduce the numbers of low skilled migrants, the country aims to maintain a suitable size of foreign population and retain those that are most useful for the country . This objective resonates with the National vision of other GCC countries as well, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, these countries are also tasked with promoting their indigenous labor force participation and training them to occupy positions that were previously occupied by foreigners. In the presence of such contradictory objectives, what still remains unclear is the perspective the GCC countries adopt towards these high skilled professionals in reality.

Little research has been done on high skilled professionals in the GCC, including, but not limited to the reasons that attract and retain them in these countries. Besides that, there is also a necessity to understand the reasons behind the short durations of stay of many of these high skilled professionals in the GCC. In light of the present economic, political and social situation in the GCC, it is imperative that we analyze the policies and the outlook of governments towards high skilled professionals in the country. In order to allow these professionals to develop these countries, to allow knowledge transfer and to bring about innovation, it is crucial that these governments not view them as temporary workers and merely filling the gaps in the labor force, but rather as a more permanent workforce whose presence is critical to developing the various sectors in their countries. Determining the outlook of the government through its immigration, labor policies, government and regional policies aimed at the high skilled professionals will allow us to understand the trajectory many of the high skilled professionals, outside as well as those present in these countries will take in the years to come.
The main motive of this paper is to understand the dynamics and the procedures in place for hiring and recruiting high skilled migrants to the GCC states. This paper will study the trend in the GCC governments’ outlook towards high skilled professionals through the various policies adopted for them. This paper will attempt to decipher how migration, labor, regional and government policies have evolved over time for the high skilled professionals, with the changes in the demand for skilled workers over the years. The paper will also draw out a trend in the demand for various skillsets that has emerged in the GCC countries owing to their changing economic and social dynamics, in addition to understanding how the government of these countries regulate and control the demand for these high skilled professionals by managing the skill requirement and competition in this arena.
The paper will then evaluate programs implemented by the governments towards promoting employment of the indigenous population and analyze how these programs fare-well in a setting when the country is trying to attract high skilled migrants. These nationalization programs are known to be failures in most of the GCC countries, hence it would be interesting to see how these programs prevail at a time when the country intends to advance. Finally, the paper will also attempt to study efforts, if any, of the countries towards transferring knowledge and skills from the high skilled professionals to their indigenous population, as this will eventually help us determine how these GCC countries intend to deal with the presence of high skilled migrants in the years to come.