The Challenges of Dual-Societies: The Interaction of Workforce Nationalisation and National Identity Construction through the Comparative Case Studies of Saudisation and Emiratisation

Book Chapter

Palik, Júlia (2018) The Challenges of Dual-Societies: The Interaction of Workforce Nationalisation and National Identity Construction through the Comparative Case Studies of Saudisation and Emiratisation, in Fargues, Philippe; & Nasra M. Shah, eds, Migration to the Gulf: Policies in Sending and Receiving Countries. Cambridge, UK: Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM) Programme; Gulf Research Centre Cambridge (105–125).

​In recent years, the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have undertaken steps to promote haweeya alwatani (national identity) policies. This development raises multiple questions in light of the region’s contemporary demographic picture and migratory dynamics. National economies in the region are characterised by resource dependency and over-dependence on a foreign workforce. In order to increase nationals’ participation in the private sector, various workforce nationalisation policies were introduced. Generally, workforce nationalisation is taken as an economic issue; however, it encompasses cultural, societal and political aspects. This chapter demonstrates that in times of crises, the non-national workforce is often portrayed as a threat to the culture and identity of the GCC countries. The chapter identifies and compares through the analytical lens of constructivism the interrelationship between workforce nationalisation and collective identity construction efforts of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It applies and extends Catherina Kinnvall’s group level ontological security theory and argues that powerful groups are capable of presenting their narrative as the national identity and thus excluding certain groups from the society. Building on this modified reading of Kinnvall’s theory, the study then explores how ontological security seeking by Saudi Arabia and the UAE contributed to the emergence of Saudisation and Emiratisation policies, respectively. Research into this topic holds practical relevance for stakeholders wishing to gain a more nuanced understanding of nationalisation policies within the GCC as well as academic relevance for the assessment of the role of collective identity formation in nation-building policies in the Gulf region.

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Authors

Júlia Palik

Júlia Palik

Research Assistant/ Administrative Assistant