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Migrant Driven Economies
and Changing Labour Demographics:
Evidence from the GCC

by Rashed Albinali

International migration plays an increasingly important role in shaping the global economy. By 2020, there were more than 280 million migrants worldwide.[i] Circular migration in particular is considered to be a win-win situation.[ii] Migrant-receiving economies, in need of labor to fuel economic growth, benefit from increased productivity and migrant-sending economies benefit from remittances. In fact, this argument has been the central tenet of economic development within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since at least the 1970s. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, oil wealth was the primary pull force for migrants to the GCC, initially from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and later from South and Southeast Asia. Figure 1 showcases this increase in the GCC’s migrant stock between 1975 and 2020.