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Gulf expats face Covid-driven extinction

Covid-19 shutdowns, lockdowns and economic downturns destroyed the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs worldwide in 2020, International Labor Organization (ILO) figures show.

Nowhere has the economic impact been felt more deeply than in the Gulf, home to many of the world’s estimated 154 million migrant workers.

In Saudi Arabia, the third quarter alone saw 257,000 expats depart, according to the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics, with 1.2 million expected to have left in the year.

In Oman, the country’s National Center for Statistics recorded 45,000 expat departures in July 2020 alone.

In Kuwait, the last three months of 2020 saw 83,500 expats depart, local daily Al Qabas reported last month, after a wave of firings of foreign employees in the public sector.

In the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, too, expat numbers are down, with shops shutting and offices emptying.