The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world’s biggest countries to reconsider their stance on immigration and foreign labor. The virus’ devastation of international economies brought to light how dependent the world had become on globalization, and how a cataclysmic event on a world-wide scale such as this can disrupt long-standing supply chains and trade routes. Still, this doesn’t mean we should shut our doors to foreign talent.
While it’s certainly true that COVID-19 has led to more restrictive policies on travel and immigration, it has also “brought attention to the criticality and vitality of migrant workers in many sectors of the economy – especially healthcare and agriculture,” as the World Economic Forum highlights.
“We are already witnessing the formation of ‘mobility bubbles’, such as the trans-Tasman bubble with relaxed border restrictions between Australia and New Zealand. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia… These ‘safe zones’ not only pose a risk of furthering the securitization rhetoric against migrants from countries with a higher case load, but also lead to a new form of economic isolationism and globalization, where production lines and supply chains may shift to be localized within these bubbles to direct economic recovery and sustainability.”
The benefits expats and immigrants bring to their host countries have been widely discussed and documented.
“Expatriates bring with them a unique set of skills that diversifies the local talent pool,” The Economist Intelligence Unit writes. “Close to 60% of expatriates in OECD countries are secondary- and tertiary-educated, pursuing higher education programmes or employment. The likes of Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Sundar Pichai of Google represent the quintessential Indian expat, rising to the ranks of the C-suites in a number of Fortune 500 companies.”
GCC countries are among the best in the world to immigrate to
During a time like this, we must embrace diversity and foreign talent during a time when countries are reconsidering years of globalization and turning isolationist.
We’ve seen firsthand in the GCC how a country like the UAE that empowers its own nationals while also embracing foreign talent of all skill levels has become a globally renowned name on the international stage.
Since then, many of its GCC co-members have followed suit, and we’ve seen them similarly make a name for themselves.
This is evident year after year in human resources consulting firm AIRINC’s latest Global 150 Cities Index, which it compiles annually.
AIRINC’s Global 150 Cities Index is a ranking of 150 of the top global locations according to the financial and lifestyle benefits they offer. It combines local salary levels, tax rates, living costs, and living conditions to assess how appealing each location is to live in.
Over the years, many GCC cities have placed in the top rankings of the Index, and this year is no different. In fact, every single GCC member of the Index was represented in the top 20 most financially attractive cities in the world.
Manama was recognized as the number one most financially attractive city in the world, given that Bahrain “offers one of the easiest and most cost-effective environments to set up and operate a business in the world. Businesses operating in the Kingdom enjoy 0% tax and 100% foreign ownership allowed.”
In this same category, Manama was followed by Riyadh in 4th place, Kuwait City in 6th, Abu Dhabi in 7th, Dubai in 12th, and Muscat in 16th.
“GCC economies have invested considerable sums in making themselves more attractive to international businesses in line with ambitious region-wide economic diversification efforts.
As for the Lifestyle ranking, Dubai placed 48th, Abu Dhabi 52nd, Muscat 85th, Kuwait City 105th, and Riyadh 123rd.
Now, more than ever, we need to remember how combined local and foreign collaboration has built great nations, and why it’s important that we not give in to fear amid a temporary calamity.