Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Extending social protection to migrant workers in Gulf countries: state of play and next steps for reform

Time (GMT +01) 09:30 10:45
Image credit:An engineer supervises the work of foreign workers at a construction site in Doha. ILO/Apex Image. Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This event has finished, watch or listen to the playback below.


This recording is available with Arabic subtitles, please click the subtitle option.

Running order:

00:00 Welcome and opening remarks by Jessica Hagen-Zanker

04:47 Social protection in MENA region, current practices and why reform is needed

14:00 Migrant workers’ rights to social protection in the GCC – new evidence

21:31 Migrants’ experiences of accessing social protection in the GCC

35:00 Q&A - What is driving and hindering progress?

39:00 Q&A - Are there good examples of the portability of social security provisions?

39:20 Q&A - Do policies pay special attention to gendered differences faced by different groups of migrants, and the informal sectors?

46:15 End-of-service indemnity: challenges and reforms needed

58:24 Q&A - Role of countries of origin? Conflicts of interest between

1:04:00 Q&A - To what extent is legislation enforced?

1:09:24 Implications for the international community

About the event

Globally, migrant workers often face multiple challenges and barriers in accessing social protection.

Despite international social security standards, in reality, discriminatory legislation, insufficient monitoring and enforcement, and practical barriers, leave many migrants with low social protection coverage.

The challenges of extending social protection to migrant workers are also present in the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC).

This online event explored social protection for migrant workers in the Gulf countries, sharing new insights on current legal provisions, recent trends and possible avenues for progressive reform.

The event was hosted by ODI, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Regional Office for Arab States and with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It builds on ODI’s work with ILO on the project Extending Social Protection to Migrant Workers: Exploratory Research and Policy Dialogue in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries.


  • Jessica Hagen Zanker

    Senior Research Fellow Migration, ODI (Chair)

  • Khalil Buhazaa

    Labour Affaires Manager, the Council of Ministers of Labour in GCC states

  • William Gois

    Regional Coordinator, Migrant Forum in Asia

  • Luca Pellerano

    Senior Social Protection Specialist, International Labour Organization, Regional Office for Arab States

  • Lea Bou Khater

    Social Protection Technical Officer, International Labour Organization, Regional Office for Arab States

  • Christy Lowe

    Senior Research Officer, ODI

  • Patricia Barandun

    Head of Section Migration and Forced Displacement, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)