The Arabian Peninsula exhibits one of the highest ratios of migrants to nationals anywhere in the world. Currently almost half of the regional population is foreign. In several countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, non-nationals comprise nearly three-quarters of the population. Migration to the region is not a new phenomenon, beginning with the advent of the oil economy in the 1950s, and subsequently increasing exponentially over the decades to match the booming development trajectories of the six GCC states. The intensive development of the regional hydrocarbon industry led to a heightened need for labor that could not be met by the small local Gulf populations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain all required a steady supply of foreign workers to meet their burgeoning labor demands. Research indicates that just before the 1991 Gulf war, the GCC was home to more than seven million migrants; by 2008 this figure had increased to almost sixteen million.
Click here to read more about another related CIRS research initiative, "Highly Skilled Migration to the Gulf in Comparative Perspective."