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Saudi Arabia has introduced a number of initiatives to regulate the cost of recruiting a domestic worker, including nationality-based recruitment caps and a monthly instalment plan for recruiting workers from Indonesia.

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Saudi Arabia doubled the renewal fees for “exit and re-entry visas” for residents who are outside the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia remains the only Gulf state that effectively charges migrants fees for exiting and returning to the Kingdom.

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Kuwait’s Public Authority of Manpower launched a new electronic service for labour disputes involving domestic workers. The new e-service will allow both domestic workers and employers to submit complaints.

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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait have intensified efforts to identify and deport migrants with irregular status in recent months. Over 70,000 migrants were detained between November and December by Saudi alone.

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Non-Kuwaiti residents are now required to pay additional fees when purchasing medicine, on top of the healthcare and insurance fees they already pay. The move is the latest in a series of discriminatory public health policies.

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The number of requests for job changes and rejections are on the rise in Qatar. Moreover, the rejections of new recruitment requests have also increased drastically in the last several months, likely in an effort to reduce the number of migrant workers in the country ahead of the World Cup.

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Following several official deployment bans over the years, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia signed a bilateral agreement on 11 August 2022 that aims to increase the number of Indonesian domestic workers in the Kingdom.

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Expanding localisation programmes, Saudi Arabia and Oman have recently issued ministerial decisions that ban migrants from certain jobs in the private sector.

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Saudi Arabia has updated regulations that permit domestic workers to change employers without their current employer’s permission under certain conditions.  These conditions remain limited, and in practice, domestic workers still face a number of obstacles in obtaining a new employer.

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Saudi Arabia has recently signed labour agreements to recruit private sector workers and domestic workers from Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Burundi in an effort to fill labour shortages, which are largely due to deployment bans from origin countries that are demanding better protections for their workers.

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Qatar’s new compulsory private health insurance system for all non-citizen residents, including visitors and those employed in the public and private sectors, is being rolled out in phases. The full text of the law’s executive regulations have not yet been made public.

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The UAE  has significantly reduced fees for issuing work permits for expatriate employees to incentivise companies that surpass nationalisation quotas.  The incentives were introduced alongside steep penalties.

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Oman is exempting companies and individuals are from fines related to the late issuance or renewal of expat work permits, provided that they renew before September 1, 2022.

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According to officials, domestic workers accounted for nearly 50% of the 151,690 ‘residency violators’ in Kuwait in 2021. The country is facing a severe shortage in domestic workers due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, migration bans from origin countries, and, according to officials, a general lack of interest in recruitment to Kuwait.

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Oman has drastically reduced fees for issuing and renewing visas to migrant workers. Companies compliant with Omanisation quotas will see an added reduction of up to 89% less than previous costs.

Legally, the costs of employment visas should be borne by the employer, but are sometimes passed down to workers in the form of salary deductions.

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Qatar introduces nationality-based cap on recruitment fees for domestic workers. While a cap on recruitment costs is not unwelcome, the discriminatory rates feed into the stereotypical treatment of workers, with fees equated to the value of the individual.

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