Migration diplomacy in the Gulf – non-state actors, cross-border mobility, and the United Arab Emirates

Malit, F. T. and Tsourapas, G. (2021) Migration diplomacy in the Gulf – non-state actors, cross-border mobility, and the United Arab Emirates. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47(11), pp. 2556-2577. (doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1878875)

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What is the role of non-state actors in the international politics of labour migration in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries? This paper employs a ‘migration diplomacy’ framework in order to examine the politics of regional mobility while interrogating the assumed centrality of the state in this process. It focuses on labour migration into the United Arab Emirates and draws on a range of primary sources in order to identify four types of non-state actors that seek to maximise their interests within the workings of Emirati migration diplomacy: public-private partnerships, namely the Tadbeer (‘procurement’) centres; corporations within the Emirati construction sector; business elites managing subcontracting companies; and, finally, non-governmental organisations and foreign consulting firms. The paper identifies how each of these four sets of actors pursues strategies that are able to strengthen, supplant, or undermine the state’s formal migration diplomacy aims. Furthermore, the Emirati case debunks the myth of the state as a centre of power in Gulf migration management via the kafāla (‘sponsorship’) system. Overall, the paper demonstates how a range of non-state actors can navigate migration management policymaking, thereby underlining the complexity of Gulf migration diplomacy.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This work was supported by a 2020 Pilot Study Grant from the Council for British Research in the Levant.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tsourapas, Professor Gerasimos
Authors: Malit, F. T., and Tsourapas, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-9451
Published Online:10 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 47(11):2556-2577
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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