Expat jobs at risk in Middle East due to employer problems

Published:  23 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia, UAE, Jobs
A recent report reveals that, due to increasing costs to employers and move by Arab governments to cut the number of expat workers, lucrative postings in the Middle East may become hard to come by.

Middle Eastern employers with a high number of expat workers are being squeezed by the ever-increasing cost of expat packages including healthcare, education and accommodation. At the same time, governments in the region are imposing stricter expat employment quotas, and more stringent rules aimed at reducing high local unemployment totals.

The Arab states making up the Gulf Cooperation Council, (GCC) are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar Kuwait and Bahrain. It’s the Middle East’s most dynamic region due to its reserves of oil and gas, and employs a huge number of expats.

Regional governments are investing heavily in infrastructure in an attempt to boost other industries and the economy in general, but the moves are affecting salaries and inflation. The labour market is dominated by expats, with the UAE and Qatar foreign workforces at 90 per cent of total employees and Saudi at 50 per cent.

The report, compiled by HR company Mercer, attributes the problems to the work visa sponsorship system, which does not allow free movement of workers between employers. Multinationals in the region are considering the introduction of ‘umbrella companies’ spread over the entire region, making transfers between states straightforward as the necessary sponsorship documents would cover all areas.

Another major problem for employers is the tightening of quotas for foreign workers, tied to the number of non-expat employees in any private sector company. According to the report, it’s almost impossible to attract local workers in Saudi to jobs with private companies, with 43 per cent of Saudi’s overseas –based companies risking losing privileges as they are unable to meet the quotas.
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