We recently reported that Bahrain was introducing a new housing policy, in order to keep groups of expatriate bachelors from renting properties within residential areas. This change was allegedly introduced in response to complaints from locals, often pertaining to the behaviour of expats within their midst.
Instead, bachelor groups of expats will be limited to renting property in specific areas so as to segregate them from the main residential areas and so reduce the antagonism which is increasingly being felt here.
The plan, while initially worrying, turns out to apply primarily to less educated, lower-income expatriate workers – many of them living in high densities while working within the Bahraini construction industry. Western expats, it seems, taking on higher level work were largely omitted from these new rules and are still free to live within Bahraini residential areas. So far, so good.
However reports have emerged over the last few weeks that this could simply be the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. It has been alleged that an expat worker recently broke into a Bahraini household and attacked the residents. The incident seems to have polarized the nation, acting as the final straw that broken the donkey’s back. Now, a war of words is emerging, which could have a significant impact on the expat population in Bahrain.
A government minister is reported as describing expat labourers as “lacking morals and religion” and posing as a ”nuisance”. So far, few have acted in haste to counteract these claims, and so it seems a new threshold may have been met, which could result in further segregation occurring. This time around it seems rather less clear whether the proposals will apply to the expat population as a whole or purely manual labourers as before.
The latest incident has led to some government ministers to call for further segregation between expat workers and the local populace. It has been suggested now that foreign workers shouldn’t just live separately to the native Bahraini population; but they should also work separately too. In essence, discussions are under way about the validity of entirely segregating foreign workers from Bahraini nationals.
While this full-on segregation may initially make some native Bahraini’s sleep easier at night, it isn’t entirely clear how this proposal would work in practise, bearing in mind that the construction work that many of these expats do can be scattered almost anywhere in the country. In addition, it isn’t overly clear just how the expats themselves will feel about the suggestions, and whether it will radically affect the number of expats coming here to work.
Here at Expatriate Healthcare we’ll be monitoring the situation carefully and will update the site with any relevant news as it arises.