Karim Sahibafp/ Stringer/ Getty Images

Het dividend van expats in de Golfstaten

PARIJS – Hoe moeten beleidsmakers in de Golfstaten van het Midden-Oosten omgaan met de grote buitenlandse beroepsbevolking in hun landen? In Saudi-Arabië bestaat de bevolking voor ongeveer een derde uit mensen met een buitenlands paspoort. In Qatar en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten is negen van de tien inwoners buitenlander. Moeten deze landen doorgaan met zwaar te investeren in het ontwikkelen van een beroepsbevolking van eigen bodem, met als doel de afhankelijkheid van gastarbeiders te verminderen?

De buitengewoon hoge proportie aan buitenlandse arbeid binnen de landen van de Samenwerkingsraad van de Arabische Golfstaten (Gulf Cooperation Council ofwel GCC)wordt vaak als problematisch ervaren, omdat deze, volgens sommigen, de lokale cultuur en nationale identiteit bedreigt, de lonen laag houdt, en de ontwikkeling van binnenlandse vaardigheden en talent belemmert. Met zoveel beroepen en vakken die gedomineerd worden door relatief goedkope gastarbeid blijven er voor de binnenlandse bevolking vaak nog maar enkele vakgebieden over die concurrerende lonen bieden. Deze neigen zich overwegend in de publieke sector te bevinden, waar olie-inkomsten gebruikt worden om hoge lonen en aantrekkelijke arbeidsvoorwaarden in stand te houden.

Maar één belangrijke dimensie van het beleidsdebat binnen de regio riskeert over het hoofd gezien te worden: de grote buitenlandse bevolkingen binnen de Golfstaten bestaan niet alleen uit arbeiders, ze zijn ook consumenten. Door de bevolking van de landen waar ze wonen te vergroten helpen expats de economische groei aan te drijven.

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