Oxford Economics Sees Exodus of Expat Workers From Across Gulf

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(Bloomberg) -- Population in some of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council countries may drop as much as 10% as the impact of the coronavirus forces their largely foreign workers to leave the oil-rich nations, according to Oxford Economics.

“The dependence of the GCC on expat workers and large swathes of job losses as the lockdowns bite in key sectors may result in significant falls in population, which could have longer-lasting implications,” Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, wrote in a report.

The Gulf Cooperation Council countries are: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The report also said:

  • “The GCC is in recession as lockdowns to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and the ramifications of low oil prices hit the non-oil economies. As a result, employment across the GCC could fall by around 13%, with peak-to-trough job losses of some 900,000 in the UAE and 1.7m in Saudi Arabia”
  • “Dependence on expat workers in vulnerable sectors means the burden of job losses will fall on the expat population. Combined with visas depending on employment and lack of a social safety net, an expat exodus is likely as travel restrictions are eased. This could result in the population declining by between 4% (in Saudi Arabia and Oman) and around 10% (in the UAE and Qatar).
  • “While an expat exodus may mean that the GCC ‘exports’ some of the impact of recession, it will also have some adverse consequences on key sectors, such as possible labor shortages as the hospitality sector recovers, an additional drag on property markets and potential price pressures in certain quarters.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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