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New Gulf Rules Opposed: CEN 10.19.07 p 6. October 18, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East.

majeed-al-alawi-of-bahrain.jpgProposals to expel foreign workers from the Persian Gulf states after six years’ residence are discriminatory and economically foolhardy, the Area Bishop of the Persian Gulf said this week.  The Rt. Rev. Azad Marshall, Bishop of Iran and Area Bishop for the Persian Gulf in the Church of Pakistan told The Church of England Newspaper that proposals by the Bahrain Labour Minister Majeed al-Alawi (pictured) for consideration by the Gulf States could effect upwards of 13 million expatriate workers living in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf States fear that under international law foreign workers might claim government education, health and housing benefits, and be able to apply for citizenship after five year’s residency.  Over one million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, while in the UAE over 80 percent of the population consists of expatriate workers of whom almost a third are Christian.

“In some areas of the Gulf, you can’t tell whether you are in an Arab Muslim country or in an Asian district. We can’t call this diversity and no nation on earth could accept the erosion of its culture on its own land,” al-Alawi told the Gulf Daily News.

“The majority of foreign manpower in the region comes from different cultural and social backgrounds that cannot assimilate or adapt to the local cultures,” he said.

Bishop Marshall said Arabs traditionally have been known for their “warm hospitality which has helped create a model of congeniality among Arabs and Asians working together.”

“Many Arabs have created similar pockets of Arabs in some European cities,” he said adding that denying this right to Asian immigrants to the Arab world was unfair.  “In this age of global economy one should move with time towards reciprocity and acceptance.”

Bishop Marshall stated that unlike Europe or the US, guest workers in the Gulf can only live “in these countries for the tenure of their visas. They give their best years and skills to these countries, for jobs and money of course, but without any hope of ever becoming permanent visa holders, residents or citizens.”

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