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Gulf Guide Chapter 4: Workers Salary
Gulf Guide Chapter 4: Workers Salary

Illustration: Marcelle Louw for GIJN


» Guide

Chapter 4 – Essential Reading

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Below we highlight the most critical sources for understanding trafficking, forced labor, and irregular migration issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Human Rights Reporting and News

Human Rights Watch: HRW has produced multilingual reporting on the situation of migrant workers and domestic workers in the MENA region since the 2000s. Reports feature in-depth interviews with workers and analysis of regulations. The website also features statements on recent news.

Key Reports
Gulf Guide - construction workers

Illustration: Marcelle Louw for GIJN

Amnesty International: Amnesty reports on the situation of workers in the MENA region, particularly construction workers in Qatar. They also publish current news and commentary on trafficking and migration issues.

Key Reports Regular reporting and in-depth coverage of trafficking and forced labor issues in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Key Reports

Government and Intergovernmental Research

International Labour Organization: The ILO publishes in-depth analysis of legislation and regulations affecting migrant workers in the MENA region. Comparisons between countries and their new bilingual glossary on migration are especially useful.

US Trafficking in Persons Report: Updated yearly, these reports provide comprehensive analysis and ratings of countries’ efforts to combat trafficking.

Key Reports

Research and Academia

GLMM: Gulf Labour Markets and Migration reports are produced by academics on a range of migration issues in the GCC. Their papers and policy briefs clearly outline regulatory frameworks.

Key Reports

Migration Policy Institute: Years of reports on MENA migration corridors, covering topics from recruitment to labor reform.

Key Reports

Books and Novels

The suggestions below are primarily written by migrants and depict the lives of migrants in the GCC. They include fiction and may not be a typical resource for journalists, but their rich storytelling reflects lived experiences and gives readers a unique and essential perspective.

“Goat Days” by Benyamin (birth name: Benny Daniel Kulanada). Written in Malayalam by a Bahraini-based Indian migrant, Goat Days journeys through the life of an Indian worker abused in Saudi Arabia. Based on real-life events.

“Temporary People” by Deepak Unnikrishnan. Written in English, Arabic, and Malayalam, these fictional stories of workers in the UAE capture the temporariness of the country’s migrant workforce.

“Impossible Citizens” by Neha Vora. Written in English, this book offers ethnographic research on the Indian community in Dubai and explores citizenship and belonging amongst a population barred from permanent residency.

“Bamboo Stalk” by Saud Alsanousi. Originally in Arabic and now translated into English, this award-winning novel about a half-Kuwaiti, half-Filipino’s experiences in Kuwait reveal society’s prejudices and tensions with its migrant workforce.

“Migrant Labour in the Persian Gulf” by Mehran Kamrava and Zahra Babar. A collection of English-language chapters addressing various aspects of migration in the GCC.

“Slave States: The Practice of Kafala in the Gulf Arab Region” by Yasin Kakande. Written in English by a Ugandan journalist who worked in the Middle East for over a decade, “Slave States” exposes the conditions of migrant workers in the UAE.

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