-- United Arab Emirates' Kafala System - Harmless or Human Trafficking?
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
The kafala system is an integral part of the United Arab Emirates's (UAE) social contract. This makes reforming labour practices in line with international standards a challenge because it would require removing a privilege citizens enjoy in a society where they have few civil and political rights, writes Equidem's Mustafa Qadri. You can read the paper here.
Like most of its neighbors, the UAE has engaged in a range of reforms over the last decade to enhance labour mobility and rights compliance for migrant workers. But the kafala system remains a critical ingredient in the state’s capacity to ensure political control in a situation where only a minority of the population has citizenship rights and where legal and social power rests with a small group of royal families. What is less well understood is the system’s role in creating a social contract between the state and the citizen, which effectively promises the latter a ready source of revenue and significant control over migrant labor in return for reduced social and political freedoms.