Migration Policies across the GCC: Challenges in Reforming the Kafala

The kafala has become increasingly costly and more difficult to sustain over time. Administrative challenges and labour market inefficiencies have increased the economic costs of the kafala, while non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international media have exposed systemic abuse, hurting the Gulf states’ reputations.

The Gulf states continue to fight a losing battle for a system that can no longer meets its basic goals. Partial and failed enforcement has resulted in efficiency losses for the entire economy. Compounding these losses, basic incentive problems generate negative externalities for domestic labour markets and investors. In concert with these many economic costs, domestic pressures and international condemnation pose significant political challenges to the ruling regimes. And yet despite this hard reality, the system persists throughout the Gulf. Given such severe and growing costs, the question then is, how has the kafala lasted this long and
resisted reform?

English | August 4, 2018



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