6 Dec 2020

Covid-19 and the Case for Naturalizing Highly-Skilled Expatriates in the GCC

Dr. Omar Al-Ubaydli

The most important source of sustainable economic growth in advanced economies is homegrown innovation, underlain by high allocations of resources to research and development. The Gulf economies realize this and have set out economic visions that target improving homegrown innovation as part of a transition to a knowledge economy.

However at present, the Gulf economies realize low levels of homegrown innovation and technological advancement, indicating the need for further reforms. Among the many factors that contribute to the weakness of homegrown innovation is the guest-worker system used to manage migrant workers, as it creates perverse incentives for knowledge transfer, and discourages investment in long-term knowledge production infrastructure. This paper argues that the Gulf countries should consider introducing a structured path to naturalized citizenship for highly-skilled migrant workers, as this will improve homegrown levels of innovation.

covid_19

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Omar Al-Ubaydli is the Director of Research at Derasat, Bahrain, an affiliated Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and an affiliated Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center. His research interests include political economy, experimental economics, and the economics of the GCC countries. He has served as a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Joint Advisory Board of Economists and a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.

Al-Ubaydli regularly publishes his research in international peer-reviewed academic journals. His mainstream media articles appear in Arabic and English-language newspapers and blogs such as Al-Hayat, The National, Forbes Opinion, and US News. Al-Ubaydli earned his BA in Economics from the University of Cambridge and his MA and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago.