Labour Migration


Migrant workers dig into a field in Doha, Qatar (© ILO)
The Arab States region is one of the main destination regions globally for migrant workers, and the numbers have increased substantially in recent years. The proportion of migrant to local workers is amongst the highest in the world. Many of these migrant workers are manual labourers or domestic workers, and face a number of decent work challenges. The ILO and its constituents are working to address these challenges through the ILO's Fair Migration Agenda, which was adopted in 2014. See more

Facts and figures

  • In 2015, there were 32 million international migrants in the Arab States region.
  • The number of refugees hosted by countries such as Jordan and Lebanon has grown rapidly, to a combined total of 5 million migrant workers and refugees in 2015.
  • The Arab states hosted 17.8 million migrant workers in 2013, and the majority are from Asia, with sizeable number also coming from Africa, especially Egypt.
  • Migrants in the six Gulf States account for over 10 per cent of all migrants globally, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates host respectively the 4th and 5th largest migrant populations in the world.
  • Migrant workers make up the majority of the population in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (and more than 80 per cent of the population in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates); while in construction and domestic work in Gulf States, migrant workers make up over 95 per cent of the work force.
  • Migrants in the Arab states remitted over USD 109 billion in 2014, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ranking second and third globally in terms of remittance outflow (after the USA).
  • It is estimated that some 600,000 migrants are victims of forced labour in the region.
Source: ILO