October 14, 2015

Refugee Crisis and Economic Migration: Regional Economic Interdependence and the Arab Gulf States

The institutional design of the Arab Gulf states sought to build economic capacity, social services, and basic infrastructure for small citizen populations. The reality, however, is that the states are regional drivers of economic growth and regional economic stability. Their outward placement of foreign investment, cash, and in-kind (often oil and gas) donations to unstable governments, and their support of regional economies via remittances, offer a wide net of support to states and citizens across the wider Middle East and North Africa region.

In effect, the Arab Gulf states are at the center of debate on two related policy dilemmas. The first is creating coherent immigration and human rights policy toward refugees and economic migrants. The second is in crafting foreign policy responses, often in collaboration with allies, to intervene financially or militarily in neighboring conflicts and political transitions. It is the conflict, and the failed governance that precedes it, that creates the demand for refuge, both political and economic.