Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC: Awarded Projects

In January 2013, CIRS launched a new multidisciplinary research initiative titled “Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC.” Since the bulk of ongoing research efforts are focused on non-Arab migrants, the Arab migrant communities present in the Gulf have been a neglected area that merits further scholarly discussion and focus.

To investigate some of these issues, CIRS has awarded grants to the following five projects:

  1. The “Other Arab” & Gulf Citizens: The Façade of Mutual Accommodation in Historical Context.Manal Jamal, James Madison University The expatriate continuum ranges from the affluent privileged Westerners on one end, Arabs ranging in the middle, with the Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians at the top of the employment and pay hierarchy of the Arab population, and the marginalized South Asian and East Asian laborers at the opposite end of the continuum. This project seeks to explore developments as they apply to Arabs of Palestinian origin in the United Arab Emirates. The objective is to develop a more historically sensitive political chronology culminating in events surrounding the first Gulf War and the Arab Spring. The project builds on archival research conducted in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, and will entail semi-structured, open-ended interviews with Arabs of Palestinian origin in the UAE, and additional archival research.  
  2. Attitudes of Foreign Students in the GCC towards the Arab Spring, Case of Students in the UAE.George Naufal, Ismail Genc, and Carlos Vargas-Silva, American University of Sharjah This project explores the attitudes of foreign students in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) towards the Arab Spring. Using business school students enrolled at the American University of Sharjah as a case study, the project explores how these attitudes vary according to student characteristics including migration history. Particular attention is placed on the difference in attitude of Arab and non-Arab students. The results of this research will have serious implications on future migration and labor policies.  
  3. The Experiences of Egyptian Migrants in KuwaitAbbie Taylor and Susan Martin, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University An examination of the migration flows and experiences of Egyptians in Kuwait will provide a fascinating snapshot of Arab migrants in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Researchers at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) at Georgetown University in collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) also at Georgetown University propose an ethnographic study, focusing on the lived experience of Egyptians as migrants in Kuwait, through a literature review, desk analysis of online media sources, and fieldwork comprising of interviews and discussion groups with Egyptian migrants in Kuwait, relevant civil society actors, and government officials.   
  4. An Investigation of a new generation of Hadrami immigrants in Kuwait.Abdullah M. Alajmi, Arab Open University, Kuwait This is an ethnographic fieldwork to examine the factors critical to the persistence of Hadrami migration to Kuwait. Research demonstrates that while Hadramis have always formed the majority of Yemeni immigrants in Kuwait, they never had effective roles in the wider economies of Kuwait migration. Data will be collected from direct observation of working conditions and immigrants’ personal accounts of migratory experiences, which will be tested against formal documentation of the relevant literature. The proposed study will be a departure from the research on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) migration that mainly concentrates on its structural, legal, and political features. This research will examine the micro and meso levels of migration using the individual experience, the intra-community conditions, and the immigrant-sponsor relationships as the main units of analysis.  
  5. High Skilled Lebanese Migrants in Kuwait.Garret Maher, Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait High skilled migration to Kuwait, particularly of other Arab migrants, is a relatively new phenomenon; the migration of many, mainly young, highly-skilled and well-educated Lebanese migrants has taken place in recent decades. This new research project has a number of key objectives, which include gaining a better understanding of high-skilled Lebanese migrant groups in Kuwait; examining the role of transnationalism in their daily lives including the role of social networks in their decision to migrate from Lebanon to Kuwait, and how they were recruited; their experiences in a Kuwaiti work environment; the use of remittances; and the extent to which transnational identities have been created.