His Excellency Mr Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), confirmed that the Cooperation Council prioritise social protection since the founding of modern countries through retirement, insurance, and social security legislation.
His Excellency explained that this is based on the firm conviction of Their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the GCC, that social protection is one of the key pillars for building stable and secure societies, emphasising that this is achieved by strengthening labour relations and ensuring their sustainability. He added that it is also one of the sustainable development goals that the GCC countries have committed to, based on their international responsibilities.
HE the Secretary General made his statements on Monday (February 12, 2024) during his speech at the panel discussion on Gulf initiatives to develop end-of-service reward systems for expatriate workers. The panel was held on the sidelines of the World Governments Summit 2024 in the Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, under the theme “Shaping Future Governments.”
During his speech, HE the Secretary General pointed out that the efforts of the GCC countries in this regard were crowned with the decisions issued by the GCC Supreme Council in 2004 in relation to extending insurance protection to Gulf citizens working in the GCC countries, which will benefit – by the end of the year 2021 – more than 33,000 Gulf citizens.
He explained that the average annual growth rate for the period 2007-2021 amounted to 11.6 percent in the private sector and 10 percent in the public sector, underlining that this was also reflected in the facilitation of attracting Gulf talents in the labour markets in the GCC countries, as the number of Gulf nationals working in countries other than theirs in the GCC reached 35,000 workers of both genders in the private sector by the end of 2021.
His Excellency also stated that the comprehensive protection of labour markets and all categories of workers has included social protection systems in the GCC states – in some of their branches – for migrant workers, such as insurance against work-related injuries and end-of-service benefits, recalling what the International Labour Organisation indicated that “the areas of inequality and major gaps in the levels of comprehensiveness and adequacy of social protection systems, and the great disparity in the levels of protection and their comprehensiveness between regions and countries, have become more apparent”.
Furthermore, His Excellency stressed that in light of these contexts, the GCC countries did not delay in addressing the gaps in the social protection systems, especially after the effects of Covid-19, noting that the GCC countries began comprehensive reviews of social protection systems, including branches related to expatriate workers, where the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, and recently the Kingdom of Bahrain, began regulating end-of-service benefits for expatriate workers.
HE the Secretary General concluded his speech by referring to the international regional status that the GCC countries have achieved in the field of development, humanitarian and social work, which falls under the topic of the dialogue session. He stressed that the GCC countries attach great importance to the well-being, safety and stability of their expatriate workers, as they do everything in their power to ensure that their laws are consistent with national and international requirements, and to ensure that these laws are implemented fairly for all.