In a letter to the bank's president, Human Rights Watch called on the bank to "champion an international convention for the protection of migrants that recently entered into force."

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are holding their annual meetings in Dubai, UAE, this week.

According to Human Rights Watch, nearly 10 million foreigners, mostly unskilled or semi-skilled, work in the Gulf states.

It added that migrants – many from South Asia and the Philippines – make up some 90% of the 1.7 million workers in the UAE.

The Migrant Workers Convention guarantees human rights and promises state protection against abuse by employers and government officials.

The convention has been ratified by 22 states, but has yet to be adopted by many wealthy countries that depend heavily on migrant labour, said Human Rights Watch.

"The World Bank knows that migrants are key to economic development, but they're not paying attention to the dark side of that issue," said Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

"The bank should be leading the way in international efforts to protect them from exploitation and abuse."