Awarded Projects

Migrant Labor In The Gulf Grant Awardees

In 2009, CIRS launched a research initiative to study migrant labor issues in the Gulf region. The initiative has two distinct but interrelated streams. One stream consists of organizing a series of working group meetings. The first working group meeting took place in May 2009, and the second working group meeting was held in January 2010. The working group is made up of academics, experts, and representatives from various governmental, non-governmental and labor organizations. The group discussed the issue of migrant labor from a broad range of perspectives and gave recommendations for further research.

The results of this research initiative have been published as: Mehran Kamrava and Zahra Babar, eds. Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf (Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2012).

The second stream, which runs alongside the working group meetings, consists of awarding research grants to scholars interested in conducting primary research and field-work on migrant labor issues in one of the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. A total of thirty-three proposal submissions were received under the grant solicitation. After a rigorous selection process, the research grant committee, made up of GU-Qatar faculty, selected four proposals to fund. Below are brief descriptions of each project:

  1. “A Longitudinal Analysis of Low Income Laborers in Contemporary Qatar” by Andrew Gardner, Qatar University. This project explores how low-income migrants respond strategically to the challenges and difficulties they face in the Gulf States. Gardner’s ethnography tracks a small group of ten low-income migrants through a year in Qatar. Gardner has conducted extensive semi-structured interviews, most of which have been recorded, translated, and transcribed.  
  2. “Migrants to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: Values, Behaviors, and Plans” by Arland Thornton, Dirgha Ghimire,Mansoor Mouaddel, and Nathalie Williams, University of Michigan. This project examines the values, plans, and behavior of migrants to the countries of the Gulf. It also examines how these countries are influenced by their migrant populations. The project focuses on five dimensions of migration: 1) the values and behavior of the migrants; 2) migrant spending, saving, and remittances; 3) the plans of migrants concerning return to their home countries or migration elsewhere; 4) comparative assessment of the impact of migrants on the different countries of the Gulf; and 5) comparison of migrants to the Gulf with their counterparts who did not migrate. The results of th this research have been published as:
  3. “Migrant Labor and Legal Regulations in Doha and Dubai” by David Mednicoff, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Mednicoff examines the regulatory policies adopted by Gulf States to manage labor migrant populations. He also compares these policies to those adopted by states in other parts of the world. This work is based on interviews with attorneys, policy consultants, journalists, academics, and government officials in Qatar and the U.A.E.  
  4. “Trends, Impacts, and Policy Implications of Lesser-Skilled India-Gulf Migrants” by Mary Breeding and Susan Martin of Georgetown University. The project assesses trends, impacts, and policy implications of “lesser-skilled” Indian workers migrating to Gulf countries. The researchers note that the numbers of Indian migrants to the Gulf have increased dramatically. Yet, to date, detailed data on the demographic characteristics of lesser-skilled Indian migrants has been extremely limited. The researchers propose to provide the first ever detailed individual-level analysis of Indian migrants going to work in the Gulf region. This research employs a mixed-methods approach involving targeted interviews with key informants – employers and government officials in Gulf countries as well as recruitment agencies in India. This work will allow better assessment of current trends, impacts, and policy implications of low-skilled labor to Gulf States, particularly in light of the current financial crisis.  

Article by Suzi Mirgani, CIRS Publications Coordinator.