Saudi Minister demands residency cap on expat workers

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Dubai, Feb 12 (UNI) The Saudi Labour Minister has again raked up the issue of slapping a residency cap on expatriate workers in the kingdom saying it was necessary to prevent them from demanding political rights later on.

Raising the issue which was first proposed by Bahrain and then rejected by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for business stability reasons, Ghazi Al Gosaibi, the Labour Minister told the Shoura Council that too much reliance on foreign workers would threaten the country's political topography in the future.

Mr Al Ghosaibi who has been an advocate for reducing migrant labour dependance through training local workforce warned that their continued stay might prompt them to ask for electoral rights.

''We do not want the day to come when we are forced to allow them to be represented in our parliaments or municipal councils,'' Al-Eqtisadiah business daily quoted the minister as telling the Shoura Council.

He also said there might be international pressure on GCC countries to give the workers who stay for longer periods, political and voting rights.

Foreign workers make up about 13 million (37 per cent) of the 35 million people in the six GCC countries.

In the UAE, foreign residents have already outnumbered Emirates.

These workers come mainly from the Asian subcontinent and are relied upon heavily to drive the booming Gulf economies, especially in the construction industry.

Mr Al-Gosaibi did not specify how long expatriate workers should be allowed to work in the GCC. But Bahrain had earlier called for a six year cap.

UNI XC PD SSC1255

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