Fact: In all of the gulf countries, a substantial part of the population, if not the majority, are expatriates, particularly from the Indian subcontinent.
Fact: In all of the gulf countries, the MAJORITY of workers are expatriates, particularly from the Indian subcontinent.
Fact: In all of the gulf countries, if the foreign workers were to suddenly and immediately leave (or strike), the countries would come to a complete standstill, particularly if those workers are from the Indian subcontinent.
conjecture: what if all of the foreign workers, perhaps maybe on direction from their governments, were to hold a massive strike, demanding better wages, better living conditions, and most of all citizenship?
This scenario is closer to happening, and more probable than what you'd think. Apparently there are already clauses in the WTO agreement about fundamental rights for workers, and their rights to citizenship. What if tomorrow there was a strain in Indian-Gulf relationships, and their government urged the workers in the gulf to rise? On a different scenario, what if all the balushis, yemenis and jordanians were to be relieved of their jobs (because of Bahranizations), and then you have, by some estimates, up to 50,000 people that are the only people armed in the country who have not integrated that well into their surrounding society, and who are extremely pissed off?
There are rumours around circling that the U.S., in the very foreseeable future, is going to push hard for much better rights for foreign workers, especially in the gulf, and probably for their citizenship (thought some sort of UN or WTO agreement). Still a second rumour is that the real goal of the McKinsey study (and the crown prince) is to awaken people in the gulf to the serious reality of this scenario, which far surprasses the importance and problem of unemployment in bahrain (which is a very real problem). Apparently this is why the Saudi labour minister attended the opening of the workshop, since his economy also depends mainly on foreign workers. Abdulrahman Al-Nuaimi has a great, and very important article on this. I urge everyone to read it.
Consider the alternatives if there was some sort of massive strike by foreign labourers, or massive international and U.S. pressure for their citizenship:
1. Either we refuse to comply, which results (or continues) in a strike by foreign labourers. This lead to the absolute collapse of our economy.
2.We do comply, and all the foreing workers and their families are given nationalities. This fundamentally changes the makeup, policies, and dynamics of the gulf, especially since in some places, such as Dubai, about 90% of the population is foreign. It would completely seize to be an Arabic place, and would probably be the twenty-ninth state of india.
Either way, the alternatives are scary.
Solutions? It's easy to identify problems and their consequences, finding a solution is much harder.