Population: 2.788 million
Total Labor Force: 2.397 million
Unemployment Rate: 3%
% non-Kuwaiti labor force: 60%
Faced with unsafe conditions as well as physical and sexual abuse, migrant workers in Kuwait show an alarmingly high suicide rate. Domestic workers accounted for 56% of all suicides in 2013, with 81% of all suicides involving South Asian migrants and 19% involving African migrants. Migrant-Rights.org estimated that in 2010 migrant workers in Kuwait were attempting or committing suicide every two days.
Population: 27.752 million
Total Labor Force: 11.22 million
Unemployment Rate: 11.6%
% non-Saudi labor force: 80%
In Saudi Arabia, domestic employees work an average of 63.7 hours a week, the second-highest rate in the world. Long hours are not the only abuses. In 2014, 3,740 migrants filed complaints about employers, with issues ranging from nonpayment of wages to refusal to renew residency permits.
Population: 2.195 million
Total Labor Force: 1.593 million
Unemployment Rate: 0.4%
% non-Qatari labor force: 99%
Between 2010, when the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, and 2013, 1,200 workers died, according to data from India and Nepal obtained by the International Trade Union Confederation (as some have pointed out, it is not possible to link World Cup construction projects directly to all these deaths). According to human rights activists, worker abuses in Qatar include passport confiscation, lack of trade union representation, cramped accommodation and delayed wage payments.
Population: 1.347 million
Total Labor Force: 738,000
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
% non-Bahrain labor force: 44%
Research by Human Rights Watch found that migrant workers in Bahrain routinely faced discrimination and abuse, including a series of violent attacks in 2011 during anti-government protests. Human Rights Watch cited Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior, which said that four migrant workers were killed in the incidents during the unrest and 88 were injured, including 11 Indians, 18 Bangladeshi, 58 Pakistanis and one Filipino.
United Arab Emirates
Population: 9.446 million
Total Labor Force: 4.891 million
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
% non-UAE labor force: 85%
In 2013, hundreds of striking migrant workers in Dubai were threatened with deportation after Arabtec, the contractor working on projects that include the city’s airport and the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre museum, refused to accept their demands for higher wages. In addition to poor wages, many of the workers in UAE also endure extremely cramped conditions in labor camps such as Sonapur, where dozens of workers have to share single rooms and water shortages are common.
Population: 31.551 million
Total Labor Force: 14.76 million
Unemployment Rate: 46%
Average Wage: $73
After the earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015, killing more than 8,000 people, Nepalese workers being employed on the World Cup construction sites in Qatar were denied permission to leave the country to visit relatives and attend funerals, according to news reports quoting the Nepalese government.
Population: 168.958 million
Total Labor Force: 80.27 million
Unemployment Rate: 5%
Average Wage: $33
The global attention of labor activists focused on sex trafficking among female domestic workers when in 2010 authorities discovered two underage Bangladeshi girls with forged passports at an airport in Bahrain. Thai and Bahraini nationals had told the women they would be working as domestic servants but then forced them into prostitution in entertainment venues.
Population: 100.998 million
Total Labor Force: 40.87 million
Unemployment Rate: 6.8%
Average Wage: $205
Filipina domestic workers are routinely subject to physical abuse in the United Arab Emirates. One worker told Human Rights Watch that her employers slapped, kicked and beat her. Another said her female employer had punched her on the arm, pulled at her clothes and spat in her face.
Population: 1.251 billion
Total Labor Force: 492 million
Unemployment Rate: 7.3%
Average Wage: $215
About 57% of total remittances sent by workers overseas to their families back home come from Gulf Cooperation Council countries. While these remittances help pull families out of poverty, workers’ safety and welfare are threatened by corruption and the presence of middlemen and fraudsters.
Population: 199.086 million
Total Labor Force: 61.55 million
Unemployment Rate: 6.8%
Average Wage: $119
On construction projects in the Gulf, worker safety is often compromised. In April 2015, two construction workers were killed and at least 14 injured after a collapse at a convention center being built at a university in Qassim, northwest of the capital, Riyadh. The workers were mainly from Pakistan.