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DOHA: With the rising influx of foreign workers, Qatar’s total population is forecast to reach about 2.8 million from the present 1.83m by 2020, pushing the total population of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to about 53.5m, says the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
However, the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all the six Gulf states, according to the report, is expected to touch $2 trillion mark by the same year.
“By 2020, the GCC population is forecast to reach 53.5m, a 30 percent increase over the level in 2000. Over the same period, the region’s real GDP is expected to grow by 56 percent and the nominal GDP, which was $341.6bn in 2000, is forecast to reach $2 trillion in 2020,” the report showed.
The report, sponsored by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority, aiming to provide the socio-economic and demographic outlook of the GCC states by 2020 said that the profound demographic and social changes that have transformed the six GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are set to continue over the next decade, raising significant questions related to labour and immigration policies, the role of women, and the adequacy of infrastructure and public services.
According to recent reports, many expatriate workers, including some engineers and white collar employees, have already started facing difficulties in obtaining residence visa for their wives and children in Qatar.
One of the key findings of the second phase of EIU’s research said: “Rapid population growth will remain concentrated in cities. This will put pressure on public services, infrastructure and housing in urban centres. It will also create a large pool of labour that may be difficult to absorb into the private sector owing to mismatches not only of skills but also of expectations of wages and working conditions.
“Ongoing education reforms will help, but will not solve these mismatches within the next 10 years”.
The report also noted that the rising expatriate population will continue to contribute to economic growth of the region. An expanding pool of skilled professionals from overseas will provide a diverse talent pool, which would not only help stimulate further economic diversification, which is more relevant in case of Qatar.
On the issue of foreign worker’s rights and job security for nationals, the report suggested that nations with high dependence on foreign worker such as Qatar will face more pressure from groups that want to protect jobs for nationals and those that want more rights for immigrants. The treatment of foreign workers will become an increasingly important aspect of foreign relations with source countries.