//UAE Minister stresses non-immigrant status of expats in UN Convention

UAE Minister stresses non-immigrant status of expats in UN Convention

By Abbas Al Lawati, Gulf News Reporter

Dubai: Foreign workers in the UAE are not immigrants but temporary workers who come to the country with the intention of leaving once their contracts end, the Labour Minister told the United Nations on Tuesday.

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi was heading the UAE delegation to the High Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva, which includes roundtable discussions aimed at encouraging participants to discuss issues in the area of employment.

"It is important for us to point out at this international forum that the nature of the workforce that the UAE receives and hosts is a temporary … and not an immigrant one," he said, drawing attention to the International Organisation for Migration's backing for the redefinition of immigrant labour as 'temporary contractual workers'.

Dr Al Ka'abi added that the objective of those who move to the UAE was to find work and not migrate and that such a system had positive and fruitful outcomes for both parties.

He also pointed to the significance of foreign labour, which makes up 90 per cent of the workforce, to the UAE economy as well as the remittances sent by workers to their home countries, which stood at more than $20 billion last year.

Dr Al Ka'abi spoke of the UAE's commitment to progress in developing countries, pointing to the UAE's contribution of 3.6 per cent of its gross national product to promote social and economic development and provide jobs through the UAE's direct investment in various developing countries.

The UAE, he said, was also known to be one of the biggest markets for expatriates from various countries, especially developing ones.

 He placed the responsibility of finding a solution for unemployment in developing countries on the entire international community, saying that the effects of poverty are not limited to poor and developing countries.

The UAE, he said, had signed nine international agreements in the labour sector, such as those relating to working hours, discrimination, slave and child labour.

He said the UAE has achieved, in the last 30 years, a "complete renaissance in development" through an environment to create employment for all, among others.