To cite this publication: Kasim Randeree, “Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States,” CIRS Occasional Paper no. 9 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2012).
In recent decades, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have become reliant on migrant workers to the extent that foreign inhabitants constitute nearly one-third of the total GCC population. Qatar and the UAE are at the extremity of the situation, where indigenous citizens constitute only one-quarter and one-fifth of their national populations, respectively. Consequently, workforce nationalization—the concept of reducing expatriate employment by bringing more citizens into the workplace—has become the human resource management strategy of all GCC countries. In this first attempt to review all six GCC nations, this paper takes an exploratory-cum-constructivist approach and argues that closer cooperation and unified policy structures on nationalization are needed across all GCC countries. Education, training, the transfer of knowledge from expatriate to citizen, better approaches to encouraging citizens into the private sector, and the greater inclusion of women are all significant issues that need to be tackled in order to fulfill the desired goal of nationalizing the labor force across all GCC states. A clear and unified policy in terms of structural reform across GCC countries needs to be collectively defined, although methods of implementation would need to be more tailored and distinctive from one country to another.