Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about workers’ rights in various countries around the world.
Like in other Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates’ small population leaves it dependent on migrant labor to execute an ambitious development program. In order to address criticism of how migrant laborers are treated there, authorities have adopted a series of reforms in recent years. In an email interview, Zahra Babar, associate director for research with the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, explains the specific problems these reforms were intended to address and what further measures might be adopted in the future.
WPR: Why is the UAE so dependent on migrant labor, and what effect does this have on legal protections for workers’ rights?