Egyptian Labour Migration in the Arab Middle East
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The present chapter reviews Egyptian labour migration to the Arab Middle East in the last 40 years and its outcomes. It also signals the issues it has faced all along and which still call for solutions. Egyptian labour migration to countries in the Arab Middle East transformed into a mass movement in the mid-1970s. Two factors were behind this transformation. The first was the very high growth in demand for labour in oil-exporting countries in the Gulf after the historical oil price increase in 1973–1974. The second factor was Egypt’s drive to find external employment outlets to its fast growing labour force. In addition to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Egyptian migrant workers also headed to Iraq, until 1990, as well as to Libya, Jordan and Lebanon. Labour migration to the Arab Middle East has come to represent 75 per cent of total Egyptian migration. In the present chapter, the authors opined that migration has not been a solution to the employment question the country has and still is experiencing. Supply of labour is still in excess of demand. Further, the authors observed that the job quality has not improved. The overall skill quality of the labour force has not been upgraded either. However, individual workers and their families have benefitted from their migration experiences through remittances, which allow meeting their needs and alleviating their poverty.
KeywordsLabour migration Egypt Arabian countries Remittances
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