Foreign Workforce in the Arab Gulf States (1930–1950): Migration Patterns and Nationality Clause


  • This article is based upon the first part of a paper on the historical analysis of the presence of foreigners in the Arab Gulf States (1930–1950). The author has presented the paper at the Gulf Studies Conference “The 21st-Century Gulf: The Challenge of Identity,” 30 June-3 July (2010), (organized by Prof. Gerd Nonneman), Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, University of Exeter (UK).


The modern migration pattern of international migration in the Arab Gulf States (AGSs) began to take shape with the discovery of oil resources. The early development of the oil industry in the 1930s became the driving force behind the first organized import of foreign workers to the oil-producing countries of the AGSs. The historical approach of this article explains the impact that the early oil concessions had on the migration patterns in the AGSs. The nationality clause provoked, not only a circulation of manpower from one sheikhdom to another and international migration, but also created a segmentation of the labor market on the grounds of nationality.