The continuous violation of migrant workers’ rights by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is becoming worrisome, a report by the Democracy Center For Transparency (DCT) has stated.
In contrast, Qatar has been hailed for being the first country in the Gulf region to introduce a non-discriminatory minimum wage, which is part of a series of landmark reforms to the country’s labour laws. This commendation was made recently during a public hearing by the European Parliament in Brussels on the rights of migrants.
The report titled “Discrimination Against Foreigners And Expatriates Living In UAE Versus Emirati Citizens” faulted the continuing failure of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to accommodate reforms in its labour legislation as the reason for the increasing violation of rights of migrant workers.
DCT is a Brussels-based independent, not-for-profit research entity established to promote democratic values and good quality governance.
The report edited by Florence Van den Bergh, the Advocacy and Research Officer at DCT, noted that the UAE’s treatment of domestic and migrant workers is deeply concerning.
“The UAE has been complicit in the exploitation of migrant workers who come to the UAE in search of a fresh start and a better life but instead find themselves imprisoned by their new employers due to the UAE’s controlling and restrictive laws and policies. This inhumane treatment of migrant workers must end, and mechanisms must be put in place to help protect these workers’ human rights,” the report noted.
It said how the UAE treats migrant workers should be of concern because the country’s economy is heavily reliant on this massive influx of foreign workers, with foreign nationals accounting for roughly 90% of the country’s population of over 9 million people, the majority of whom are low-wage and semi-skilled workers from Africa, Asia, and other parts of the Middle East.
It noted that In the UAE, the kafala system often leads to migrant exploitation and exposes them to slavery-like practices.
The report, therefore, recommended that the UAE should modify its labour system by easing the contract restrictions or even fully abolishing the Kafala system.
“Their position as a major host country for migrant workers requires a national strategy to reduce the existing racial hierarchy and discrimination towards these people,” the report stated.
It recommended further that, “as the UAE is so reliant on foreign workers to keep up with the development boom and therefore fulfills an important international role, the state’s regulations and proper implementation and enforcement systems to protect the migrant workers’ rights, need to be adapted to comply with the universal human rights principles.”
Similar commendations by other sources point to the fact that Qatar continues to take initiatives to ensure a fair and enjoyable 2022 FIFA World Cup for soccer teams, their fans, for migrant workers as well.