Speaking at a conference on national identity in Abu Dhabi on April 16, Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim labelled the situation ''truly disastrous'' for the future of the Gulf state. Over 20 per cent of those surveyed said they disagreed with Lt Gen Tamim's comments, but felt authorities needed to protect the GCC's local culture and heritage. Close to 14 per cent of respondents agreed that foreigners posed a threat and that their numbers should be reduced so no nationality represented more than 25 per cent of a country's population. The remaining 8.6 per cent agreed with the Lt Gen's view.
Foreign workers comprise nearly 40 per cent of the GCC's total population of around 37 million, although the percentage of expatriates in places such as the UAE and Qatar is more than 80 per cent.
A proposal set to be discussed at this year's GCC summit in Muscat could cap the number of years expatriates can live in any one Gulf state in an effort to cut their numbers and stem the erosion of local culture.