Gulf countries should embark on reforms to cope with ongoing global changes but they should accept other cultures and steer away from discrimination, the UAE said on Wednesday.
While an economic upswing caused by a surge in crude prices means heavier reliance on foreign labour, regional oil producers need to take measures to develop their own manpower potential and a recent strategy proposed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, could be an ideal solution to this problem, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said.
Addressing a Gulf reforms conference in Abu Dubai, Gargash said globalisation would bring both negative and positive changes to the UAE and its partners in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).
“Change is an expression of development and vitality as its revives the blood in economic and political systems… it is the opposite of stagnation, which means motionlessness and backwardness… but change must be based on study and science and on the experiment of others because we need to benefit from the experiences of other nations and races,” Gargash told the three-day conference at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).
“We should take into consideration the identity and special character of the region’s people… in this respect co-operation is needed between the people and the governments and there should be no compromise on our Arab and Islamic identity… but, on the other hand, we should enhance our values of forgiveness and acceptance of the others… such values have always characterised the Gulf societies and created a system that rejects discrimination and believes in the need for forgiveness and coexistence to build a cohesive society.”
Gargash said Gulf states should not be complacent with the economic boom they are passing through and should consider the growing challenges facing them as a result of globalisation and increasing reliance on foreign labour.
He noted that the economic prosperity brought about by surging oil prices over the past few years has attracted a large number of expatriate workers, mainly from East Asia, as was the case during the first oil boom 30 years ago.
“This means the demographic gap in the region is worsening and creating more challenges to our societies… but the main challenge is how to balance between our development needs and our need for labour… we have now been caught in the fast moving globalisation current, which carries both negative and positive developments… dealing with this problem has become imperative.”
Call for Gulf states to develop own manpower