Kuwait has said it will scrap its much criticised Kafeel sponsorship system in February.
The practice requires that all non-nationals must be sponsored by Kuwaiti employers, thus keeping them at the mercy of their bosses, and has been described as modern-day slavery.
Migrant workers make up 87 per cent of the population in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Dubai alone is believed to house nationals from more than 100 countries.
In Kuwait, 69 per cent of the population is made up of foreigners. It is 49 per cent in Bahrain, 30 per cent in Oman and approximately 25 per cent in Saudi Arabia.
So, will other Gulf countries follow suit? And how will it impact this oil-rich region that is dependent on an immigrant workforce?
Inside Story, with presenter Nick Clark, discusses with Abdul Nabi el-Ekri, the chairman of the Bahrain Transparency Society, Fawaz al-Alami, the former chief Saudi technical negotiator with the World Trade Organisation, and Priyanka Motaparthy, a research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, September 27, 2010.
More episodes from