Karim Sahibafp/ Stringer/ Getty Images

Dividen Orang Asing di Negara-negara Teluk

PARIS – Bagaimana sepatutnya pembuat kebijakan di Negara-negara Teluk di Timur Tengah mengelola tenaga kerja asing yang sedemikian besar jumlahnya? Di Arab Saudi, total WNA mencapai hampir sepertiga populasi penduduk. Di Qatar dan Uni Emirat Arab, sembilan dari sepuluh warga adalah ekspatriat. Apakah pemerintah di negara-negara tersebut harus terus berinvestasi besar-besaran dalam mengembangkan tenaga kerja pribumi agar bisa mengurangi ketergantungan pada tenaga kerja asing?

Proporsi tenaga kerja asing yang sedemikian besar di negara-negara anggota Dewan Kerja Sama Negara-negara Teluk (Gulf Cooperation Council atau GCC) sering dianggap problematis, sebab beberapa pihak memandang keberadaan mereka sebagai ancaman terhadap budaya lokal dan identitas nasional, membatasi upah, dan menghambat kemajuan keterampilan dan bakat lokal. Dengan banyaknya perdagangan dan profesi didominasi oleh buruh asing yang relatif murah, penduduk pribumi umumnya tersisa dengan beberapa pekerjaan yang menawarkan upah yang bersaing. Bidang pekerjaan tersebut biasanya adalah sektor publik yang mana pendapatan dari minyak digunakan untuk mempertahankan upah tinggi dan kondisi kerja yang atraktif.

Namun satu dimensi penting dalam perdebatan kebijakan di kawasan justru rentan diremehkan: jumlah penduduk asing yang melimpah di Negara-negara Teluk bukan hanya pekerja; mereka juga konsumen. Ketika jumlah penduduk asing di negara tersebut meningkat, pekerja ekspatriat membantu menguatkan pertumbuhan ekonomi.

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