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2/05/2010

A familiar Gulf story

Expat workers threaten Gulf existence Feb 03, 2010 DUBAI - An influx of foreign workers in the Gulf poses a threat to the region's existence, UAE daily Gulf News reported on Wednesday, citing Bahrain's Labour Minister Majeed al-Alawi. The minister said the situation could become like Singapore and the Maldives, where "foreign workers had been brought on temporary contracts and are now ruling these countries," according to the report. Speaking at a labour conference in Abu Dhabi, Alawi said one million citizens in the wealthy Gulf are unemployed even though the region employs 17 million foreign workers, describing them as "a threat to our existence", Gulf News reported. Alawi pointed out that while 50 percent of projects in the Gulf have have come to a halt due to the impact of the global recession, the number of foreign workers has not declined. "Whoever thinks this foreign manpower in the region comes for a project and leaves on its completion is wrong. They come to stay. They buy and sell in their market created on our lands but accommodate no Arab," he said." he was quoted as saying. Alawi added: "This way countries were lost and we, in the Gulf, are facing the same threat. If this is not happening now, it will happen in the next generation." Officials in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have for years expressed concerns over the presence of millions of expat workers who are needed to run their economies. Still these countries continue to hire skilled and unskilled people from abroad to do jobs their citizens either cannot do or do not want to do. The above article is copied from Maktoob Business . Maktoob The Gulf states fear that they will lose their countries to foreigners. In the Singapore experience, we consider ourselves as immigrants. And immigrants given citizenship becomes Singaporeans. So new immigrant citizens will take over and own this island when old immigrant citizens die or fade away. This is the natural state of affair. We don't have problems with that. We welcome new immigrants to become our citizens and take over from where the old immigrant citizens left off. And we will have a more vibrant city state still populated by Singaporeans. And old Singaporeans that cannot live up to the challenge, they just have to be sidelined. It is their problem. The difference in mindset between Singapore and the Gulf states is that we place the existence of the state above the existence of the people. The people can come and go, can die and disappear, the state lives forever. We live for the state.

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