Economic Diversification and Empowerment of Local Human Resources: Could Singapore Be a Model for the GCC Countries?

  • Veronika Cummings (née Deffner)
Part of the The Political Economy of the Middle East book series (PEME)


This chapter analyses the similarities and differences between the GCC and Singapore with regard to economic diversification strategies. The key for a successful and, thus, sustainable diversification process for the GCC is to reduce the high dependence of the economic revenues away from the hydrocarbon sector. However, an ongoing concern is the continuing need of high foreign workforce that collides with the demands for greater employment opportunities for national citizens. The challenges of those nationalisation strategies will be examined at the example of the Sultanate of Oman.

Singapore represents one of the most sought-after models of an advanced diversified service economy. Albeit struggling with similar structural challenges in diversifying its economy and in dealing with a still high reliance on an international workforce, it could offer experiences with general features and practices for the strategic planning and implementation of the diversification process and the focus on education, research, development, and innovation to bring up own national workforce.


Economic diversification Foreign workforce Nationalisation strategies Oman Singapore 


  1. Al-Ali, J. (2008). Emiratisation: Drawing UAE Nationals into Their Surging Economy. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 28(9/10), 365–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Hamadi, A. B., Budhwar, P. S., & Shipton, H. (2007). Management of Human Resources in Oman. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(1), 100–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Lamki, S. (2000). Omanization: A Three Tier Strategic Framework for Human Resource Management and Training in the Sultanate of Oman. Journal of Comparative International Management, 3(1), 3–75.Google Scholar
  4. Aycan, Z., Al-Hamadi, A. B., Davis, A., & Budhwar, P. (2007). Cultural Orientations and Preferences for HRM Policies and Practices. The Case of Oman. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(1), 11–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Callen, T. et al. (2014). Economic Diversification in the GCC: The Past, the Present, and the Future. International Monetary Fund, Working Paper. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from
  6. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2015). World Factbook. Retrieved May 20, 2015, from
  7. Cooke, M. (2014). Tribal Modern: Branding New Nations in the Arab Gulf. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Das, K. C., & Gokhale, N. (2010, February 2). Omanization Policy and International Migration in Oman. Middle East Institute, Washington. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from
  9. Deffner, V., & Pfaffenbach, C.. (2015). Migration, Modernisation, and the Urban Immigration Society in the Sultanate of Oman. Middle East Insights, 128, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore.Google Scholar
  10. Erskine-Loftus, P., Al-Mulla, M. I., & Hightower, V. P. (2016). Representing the Nation: Heritage, Museum, National Narratives in the Arab Gulf States. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Global Risk Advisors. (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2015, from
  12. Government of Singapore. (2013). A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore. National Population and Talent Division, Prime Minister’s Office, Population White Paper, January. Retrieved June 3, 2015, from
  13. Government of Singapore. (2015). National Population and Talent Division. Prime Minister’s Office. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from
  14. Grant, J. (2014, December 2). Singapore Tests Its Success. Syndicates from Financial Times. Muscat Daily, p. 19.Google Scholar
  15. Hamdi, H., & Sbia, R. (2013, September). Dynamic Relationships Between Oil Revenues, Government Spending and Economic Growth in An Oil-Dependent Economy. Economic Modelling, 35, 118–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanieh, A. (2011). Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Herb, M. (2009). A Nation of Bureaucrats: Political Participation and Economic Diversification in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 41(3), 375–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Herb, M. (2014). The Wages of Oil: Parliaments and Economic Development in Kuwait and the UAE. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hertog, S. (2010). The Sociology of the Gulf Rentier Systems: Societies of Intermediaries. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 52(02), 282–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hertog, S. (2014a). Arab Gulf States: An Assessment of Nationalisation Policies. GLMM Research Paper, 1, Gulf Labour Markets and Migration Programme, Badia Fiesolana, Italy.Google Scholar
  21. Hertog, S. (2014b). State and Private Sector in the GCC after the Arab Uprisings. Journal of Arabian Studies, 3(2): 174–195. (LSE Research Online. Retrieved from
  22. Lauria, V. (2014, July 10). What Makes an Asian Tiger? Singapore’s Unlikely Economic Success Lies in Its History. Forbes Asia, Special Reports. Retrieved May 20, 2015, from
  23. Lim, L. (2009). Opinion: Singapore’s Economic Growth Model: Too Much or Too Little? Ethos, Issue 6. Retrieved May 31, 2015, from
  24. Malik, F., & Shawkat, H. (2007). Shock and Volatility Transmission in the Oil, US and Gulf Equity Markets. International Review of Economics & Finance, 16(3), 357–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ministry of Manpower, Sultanate of Oman. (2014). Omanisation per Sector. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from
  26. Ministry of National Economy, Sultanate of Oman. (2010). General Census of Populations, Housing and Establishment, Muscat.Google Scholar
  27. Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore. (2013, September 1). Gulf Cooperation Council—Singapore Free Trade Agreement enters into Force. News Room. Retrieved May 31, 2015:
  28. National Centre for Statistical Information. (2013). The Statistical Yearbook 2013. Retrieved June 6, from
  29. National Centre for Statistical Information (NCSI). (2015). Retrieved August 20, from
  30. Ramady, M. (2010). Population and Demographics: Saudization and the Labour Market. In The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements, and Challenges (pp. 351–393). New York, NY: Springer US.Google Scholar
  31. Randeree, K. (2012). Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States, Occasional Paper, 9, Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS), Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, Doha.Google Scholar
  32. Sparke, M., Sidaway, J. D., Bunnell, T., & Grundy-Warr, C. (2004). Triangulating the Borderless World: Geographies of Power in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle. Transactions, 29(4), 485–498.Google Scholar
  33. Toledo, H. (2013). The Political Economy of Emiratization in the UAE. Journal of Economic Studies, 40(1), 39–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Transparency International. (2014). Corruption Perception Index. Retrieved June 2, 2015, from
  35. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. (2006). International Migration in the Arab Region. UN Expert Group Meeting on International Migration and Development in the Arab Region: Challenges and Opportunities, Beirut, May 15–17. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from
  36. Valeri, M. (2012). Oligarchy vs. Oligarchy: Business and the Politics of Reform in Bahrain and Oman. In S. Hertog, G. Luciani, & M. Valeri (Eds.), Business Politics in the Middle East. Bloomsbury, London: C. Hurst & Co Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Valeri, Marc. (2015). Simmering Unrest and Succession Challenges in Oman. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from
  38. Velayutham, S. (2007). Responding to Globalization: Nation, Culture and Identity in Singapore, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore: Utopia Press.Google Scholar
  39. Wiesemann, A., Alromi, N., & Alshumrani, S. (2014). Education for a Knowledge Society in Arabian Gulf Countries, International Perspectives on Education and Society, 24, Bingley, Emerald Books.Google Scholar
  40. World Bank. (2011). Migration and Remittances Factbook, Washington.Google Scholar
  41. World Bank Group. (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2015, from
  42. Yeoh, B. S. A., & Lam, T. (2016). Immigration and Its (Dis)Contents: The Challenges of Highly Skilled Migration in Globalising Singapore. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(5–6), 637–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yew, L. K. (2000). From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gulf Research Centre Cambridge 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronika Cummings (née Deffner)
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyJohannes Gutenberg-UniversityMainzGermany

Personalised recommendations