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Bahrain’s Nationality, Passport & Residence Affairs renews free extension of visit visas until 21 October 2020.

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Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced that it has started implementing the 16th phase of the Wage Protection System (WPS). As of 1 August 2020, companies with 5 to 10 workers are now obligated to register with WPS.

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Oman has stepped up its Omanisation policy through several ministerial decisions.

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Oman enacted Ministerial Decision 186/2020 which amends some provisions regulating private sector businesses that violate the Covid-19 precautions.

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Saudi Arabia has renewed an automatic extension of expired visit visas and residency permits (iqama) for foreigners both inside and outside of the country, for a period of three months without charge.

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Kuwait’s Parliamentary Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee has approved a draft law proposal which would set a foreign residence quota for every nationality. The proposal will now be referred to Kuwait’s Human Resources Development Committee, which will study the proposal before referring it to the National Assembly for a vote.

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According to a recent Al Qabas report, Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) has annulled all “absconding” cases lodged during the Covid-19 crisis.

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UAE recently issued a decision that requires domestic workers to pass a mental health check and obtain a good-conduct certificate in order to enter and work in the UAE. The new decision reflects – and perpetuates – a perception of domestic workers as inherently prone to psychological issues and violence.

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In Kuwait, Oil Minister Khaled Al-Fadhel said recently that migrants will no longer be hired in Kuwait’s oil sector and that contracts with migrants will be reduced. This follows last week’s statement by Kuwaiti Prime Minister to reduce the expatriate population 70% to 30%.

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Qatar’s Ministry of Finance has instructed government-owned entities to cut employment costs of non-nationals by 30% starting from 1 June 2020. 

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Nearly 500 workers of Emirates-based AMB-Hertel protested against months of non-payment in May. AMB-Hertel is an Emirati subsidiary of the French multinational Altrad. According to Le Monde, the group has 15,000 employees in the Gulf, and it’s founder, Mohed Altrad, is a candidate for mayor of Montpellier.

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Migrant workers in Oman can now transfer sponsorship without a no-objection certification from their sponsor after completing a two-year contract. Previously, non-Omanis were banned from re-entering the country for two years if they left their employer without permission.

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Qatar approves a draft law to amend some provisions of the Labour Law as the state moves to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

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In a misguided effort to decongest overcrowded labour accommodations, Bahraini authorities have cut off water and electricity to 63 accommodations. This move puts workers at great risk, as workers will be unable to sanitise properly and have little choice but to move into already crowded accommodations to avail of air conditioning a summer temperatures soar.

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In our op-ed for Al Jazeera, we urge Gulf countries to better protect migrant workers in their Covid-19 response.

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Gulf countries are moving to ease restrictions put in place to contain COVID-19 virus despite high infection rates.