About Abu Dhabi Dialogue

The Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) was established in 2008 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asian countries of labour origin and destination. The ADD consists of the twelve Member States of the Colombo Process (CP), namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam; and six Gulf countries of destination: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Malaysia. Regular observers include the IOM, ILO, private sector and civil society representatives. The permanent secretariat is provided by the United Arab Emirates, and the current chair-in-office is Sri Lanka.

As a state-led Regional Consultative Process (RCP), the ADD aims to enable safe, orderly and regular labour migration in some of the world’s largest temporary labour migration corridors. Through multi-lateral dialogue and cooperation on the joint development of labour mobility-related programming, implementation, and reporting, the ADD helps to ensure that Member States develop partnerships for adopting best practices, and are in a position to learn from one another’s experience.  Civil society has been invited to contribute to the dialogue and in recent years to partner in realization of some of the programme areas.

About the Asia-GCC Labour Migration

Over the last two and a half decades, a high level of inter-dependency on temporary migrant labours has emerged between the countries of origin and destination in Asia. Gulf countries host the world’s highest proportion of foreign workers to all workers (35.6%) – or 11.7% of all migrant workers worldwide. The proportion of foreign-born workers in the GCC ranges from approximately 30% to 90%. Workers of Asian origin consequently play a highly significant role in the economies of the Gulf, and have contributed to the rapid development that has taken place in the GCC over the last 25 years, through their skills, knowledge and hard work. 

As a result of these factors – and the governance structures that underpin them – support for labour migration among host communities in countries of destination remains higher than in many other parts of the world. There is broad consensus that migrant workers play a significant role in the economic development of receiving countries.

The migration of temporary workers to the GCC also has a beneficial impact on the socio-economic development of the countries of origin. According to World Bank comprehensive figures (2014), approximately $98 billion was remitted from GCC countries, representing over one sixth of worldwide remittances. Remittances by migrant workers in Gulf markets consequently represent a significant source of foreign earnings, ranging from 3%-31% of the GDP of sending countries in Asia. Moreover, the workers return home with enhanced social capital, including skills and knowledge, networks and entrepreneurial ideas.

Three pillars of Good Governance

Three pillars of effective governance guide the design of programmes that are initiated by the Abu Dhabi Dialogue:

  • Ensuring the protection of migrant workers;
  • Empowering workers to fulfil their goals and aspirations; and
  • Affording workers the opportunity to benefit equitably from the outcomes of temporary labour migration

These principles are at the heart of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue's commitment to facilitating safe, orderly and regular temporary labour migration.

What is Temporary Labour Migration?

Temporary labour migration is the term given to the governance model that regulates the migration of peoples within the Member States of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue.

The key difference between the model in force in ADD Member States and many other parts of the world is that receiving countries do not grant permanent residency rights to migrants. Instead, the migrant's residency rights are dependent upon their employment.

The temporary labour migration model offers several key benefits over permanent migration, for both sending and receiving countries, including:

  • Receiving countries are able to manage cyclical changes in their labour markets and can respond rapidly both to upswings and downturns in economic growth
  • Host communities in receiving countries are far more receptive to migration, and retain a sense of community cohesion and ownership over the changes taking place in society 
  • Migrants are incentivised to remit earnings, investing in education, healthcare and infrastructure in their country of origin, which helps boost development
  • Migrants return home with improved social capital, including skills, knowledge, networks and entrepreneurial ideas

Abu Dhabi Dialogue Operating Modality

The Abu Dhabi Dialogue is a voluntary and non-binding inter-government consultative process, engaging twelve Member States of the Colombo Process (CP), namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam; and six Gulf countries of destination: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Malaysia.

Regular observers include the IOM, ILO, private sector and civil society representatives.

The permanent secretariat is provided by the United Arab Emirates, and the current chair-in-office is Sri Lanka.