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01/11/2022 - 01/11/2022 | Hamburg

GIGA Online Event: Labour Migration in the Gulf – Building Wealth on Precarity

Migrant workers live in precarious conditions in the Persian Gulf region. Migration regulations prevent naturalisation; for many, however, the region is a second home. This GIGA Forum offers analysis of the structural problems in the regional labour market and a discussion of the consequences for international cooperation.

As Arab Gulf countries showcase their wealth, hosting international events such as the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the precarious conditions of labour migrants in the region are attracting more and more international attention. Strict migration regimes prevent the permanent settlement and naturalisation of immigrants, leading to temporary and irregular living situations. Recent research also shows that migrant workers have borne the brunt of the oil price decline since 2014, and that precarity varies along age, class, nationality, and gender lines. Reaching retirement, for instance, means the loss of access to work visas, putting pressure on migrant workers to leave. Nonetheless, migrants have made the region their home for decades.

This GIGA event will analyse the structural asymmetries in Gulf countries’ labour markets, highlight the role of the “kafala” (sponsorship) system, sketch migrant workers’ strategies to navigate restrictions and maintain transnational family lives, and show how shifts in the region’s political economy impact them. Finally, it raises the question of what the consequences might be for future German and European cooperation with Gulf states.

Dr. İdil Akıncı is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the GIGA.

Dr. Thomas Richter is a Senior Research Fellow at the GIGA.

Gregory Bledjian is Head of the Middle East Division at the German Federal Foreign Office.

Dr. Christiane Fröhlich is a Research Fellow at the GIGA.

Information on participating / attending:
We would like to ask you to register for this event. The registration is free of charge.


01/11/2022 15:00 - 01/11/2022 16:15

Event venue:

German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) - Online Event

Target group:

all interested persons

Email address:



Subject areas:

Economics / business administration, Politics, Social studies

Types of events:

Presentation / colloquium / lecture




Verena Schweiger


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