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Project-Tied Labor Migration from Turkey to the MENA Region: Past, Present, and Future

  • Ahmet İçduygu (a1) and Deniz Sert (a1)
Abstract

The geographic region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) comprises one of the most fascinating immigration regions of the world, hosting millions of migrants and receiving thousands of new migrants each year. While the panorama of MENA's immigration arena is extremely diverse, this article aims to investigate project-tied, or contract-based, labor migration from Turkey, which occurs mostly through the long-established work of Turkish companies that engage in various construction and service-sector businesses. Taking the analytical context of migration system theory into consideration, the main aim of this essay is twofold: while it attempts to document the dynamics and mechanisms of contract-based labor migration from Turkey to the MENA countries, it also intends to elaborate on research about migratory systems between Turkey and the MENA region, mainly referring to macro-level factors affecting the relevant migration system.

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NOTES

1. MENA countries in this article include Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

2. Kritz, Mary M., Lim, Lin Lean, and Zlotnik, Hania, eds., International Migration Systems: A Global Approach (Oxford, 1992).

3. Castles, Stephen and Miller, Mark J., The Age of Migration (New York and London, 2003).

4. Kritz, Lim, and Zlotnik, International Migration Systems: A Global Approach, 6.

5. Ibid., 5–10.

6. Portes, Alejandro and Böröcz, Jozef, “Contemporary Immigration: Theoretical Perspectives on its Determinants and Modes of Incorporation,” International Migration Review 23 (1989): 606–30.

7. Kritz, Lim, and Zlotnik, International Migration Systems: A Global Approach, 6.

8. Fawcett, James T. and Arnold, Fred, “Explaining Diversity: Asian and Pacific Immigration Systems,” in Pacific Bridges: The New Immigration from Asia and the Pacific Islands, eds. Fawcett, James T. and Cariño, Benjamin V. (New York, 1987), 453–73; Fawcett, James T., “Networks, Linkages and Migration Systems,” International Migration Review 23 (1989), 671–80.

9. Kritz, Lim, and Zlotnik, International Migration Systems: A Global Approach, 2.

10. Ibid., 139.

11. Faist, Thomas, The Volume and Dynamics of International Migration and Transnational Social Spaces (Oxford, 2000), 300.

12. Hourani, Albert, Khoury, Philip, and Wilson, Mary C., The Modern Middle East (London and New York, 2004).

13. See, for instance, Ahmet İçduygu, “Migrant as a Transitional Category: Turkish Migrants in Melbourne, Australia” (Ph.D. diss., Australian National University, 1991); Ahmet İçduygu, “Refugee Pressure versus Immigration Pressure in Europe: The Perspective from a Sending Country—the Turkish Case,” paper presented at the European Population Conference, Milano, September 4–8, 1995a; Ahmet İçduygu, “Population, Poverty, and Culture: Identifying the Economic and Social Mechanisms for Migration in Turkey,” paper presented at the Euroconference on Social Policy in an Environment of Insecurity, Lisbon, November 8–11, 1995b; Ahmet İçduygu, “Migration from Turkey to Western Europe: Recent Trends and Prospects,” paper presented to the Mediterranean Conference on Population, Migration and Development, Palma de Mallorca, October 15–17, 1996; İçduygu, Ahmet and Sirkeci, İbrahim, “Changing Dynamics of the Migratory Regime between Turkey and Arab Countries,” Turkish Journal of Population Studies 20 (1998): 315; İçduygu, Ahmet and Kirişci, Kemal, eds., Land of Diverse Migrations (Istanbul, 2009).

14. Abadan-Unat, Nermin, “Turkish Migration to Europe, 1960–1977” in Turkish Workers in Europe, 1960–1975, ed. Abadan-Unat, Nermin (Leiden, 1976), 144; Paine, Suzanne, Exporting Workers: The Turkish Case (London, 1974), 59; İçduygu, “Migrant as a Transitional Category,” 39.

15. Franz, Erhard, Population Policy in Turkey (Hamburg, 1994), 307; Akgündüz, Ahmet, Labour Migration from Turkey to Western Europe, 1960–1974: A Multidisciplinary Analysis (Aldershot, 2008), 61.

16. İçduygu, “Migrant as a Transitional Category,” 554.

17. Böcker, Anita, “Migration Networks: Turkish Migration to Western Europe,” in Causes of International Migration, eds. van der Erf, R. and Heering, L. (Luxembourg, 1995), 151171; İçduygu, “Migration from Turkey to Western Europe,” 5.

18. Bahadır, Sefik A., “Turkey and the Turks in Germany,” Aussenpolitik First Quarter (1979), 104–15.

19. Reginald T. Appleyard, “New Trends in Migration: Numbers, Directions, and Dynamics,” paper presented at the Euroconference on Migration and Multiculturalism. London, August 30-September 2, 1995.

20. The labor movement to the CIS countries was very different from the movement to Western Europe but was quite similar to that to the MENA region: It was the movement of male workers with a work contract for a specific period and did not involve family migration or permanent stay.

21. Gökdere, Ahmet, “An Evaluation of Turkey's Recent Migration Flows and Stocks,” Turkish Journal of Population Studies 16 (1994): 2956.

22. Goldschmidt, Arthur, “The Historical Context,” in Understanding the Contemporary Middle East, ed. Gerner, Deborah J. (Boulder and London, 2000), 3380.

23. Cleveland, William L., A History of the Modern Middle East (Oxford, 2004).

24. Gelvin, James L., The Modern Middle East: A History (New York and Oxford, 2008), 196.

25. This is especially true for Syria, Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Jordan, and Iraq. Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt's formations were rather different, either as a result of anti-imperialist struggle (Turkey), coup d'etat (Iran), revolution (Egypt), or conquest (Saudi Arabia); Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 537; James L. Gelvin, The Modern Middle East: A History, 175.

26. Ibid.

27. Girgis, M., “Would Nationals and Asians Replace Arab Workers in the GCC?” Draft paper submitted to the Fourth Mediterranean Development Forum (Amman, 2002). Also quoted in Martin Baldwin-Edwards, “Migration in the Middle East and Mediterranean,” A Regional Study prepared for the Global Commission on International Migration (Athens, 2005).

28. Baldwin-Edwards, “Migration in the Middle East and Mediterranean,” 5.

29. Fargues, Philip, Emerging Demographic Patterns across the Mediterranean and their Implications for Migration through 2030 (Cairo and Florence, 2008).

30. Castles, Stephen and Miller, Mark J., The Age of Migration (New York and London, 2003), 131.

31. Halliday, F., “Migrations de main d'oeuvre dans le monde arabe: l'envers du nouvel,” Revue Tiers Monde 26 (1985), 103.

32. Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 131.

33. Miller, J., “Wave of Arab Migration Ending with Oil Boom,” New York Times (October 6, 1985). Also cited in Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 131.

34. Birks, J. S. et al. , “Migrant Workers in the Arab Gulf: The Impact of Declining Oil Revenues,” International Migration Review 20 (1986), 799814. Also cited in Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration.

35. N. Fergany, Aspects of Labor Migration and Unemployment in the Arab Region (Egypt, 2001), 1. Also cited in Baldwin-Edwards, “Migration in the Middle East and Mediterranean,” 5.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. World Bank Report, Shaping the Future: A Long-Term Perspective of People and Job Mobility for the Middle East and North Africa (Washington, DC, 2009).

39. Fergany, Aspects of Labor Migration and Unemployment in the Arab Region.

40. Fargues, Emerging Demographic Patterns across the Mediterranean and their Implications for Migration through 2030.

41. Ibid.

42. Nasra M. Shah, “Recent Labor Immigration Policies in the Oil-Rich Gulf: How Effective Are They Likely To Be?” (ILO Working Paper No. 3, 2008); Nasra M. Shah, “Restrictive Labor Immigration Policies in the Oil-Rich Gulf: Effectiveness and Implications for Sending Asian Countries.” Report presented at the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on International Migration and Development in the Arab Region. UN/POP/EGM/2006/03.

43. Girgis, “Would Nationals and Asians Replace Arab Workers in the GCC?”

44. Baldwin-Edwards, “Migration in the Middle East and Mediterranean,” 5.

45. Kapiszewski, A., “Arab Labor Migration to the GCC States,” IOM (2004), 121.

46. Kapiszewski, “Arab Labor Migration to the GCC States,” 123.

47. Shah, “Recent Labor Immigration Policies in the Oil-Rich Gulf.”

48. World Bank Report, Shaping the Future: A Long-Term Perspective of People and Job Mobility for the Middle East and North Africa.

49. Kapiszewski, “Arab Labor Migration to the GCC States,” 125.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Philipp Fargues and Nasra Shah, “The Impact of Migration on Gulf Development and Stability,” Gulf Research Meeting, (2010).

53. Aysem Biriz Karacay, “Bir Göç Sisteminin Anatomisi: Türkiye-Rusya Örneği [Anatomy of a Migration System: Case of Turkey-Russia],” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Marmara Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü, Istanbul, Turkey, 2011).

54. Longva, Anh Nga, “Keeping Migrant Workers in Check: The Kefale System in the Gulf,” Middle East Report 211 (1999), 20.

55. Ibid.

56. Ibid, 21.

57. Unbehaun, Horst, “Migration Professionnelle Des Turcs Vers Le Proche-Orient, La Russie Et L'asie Centrale” [Occupational Migration of Turks to Middle East, Russia, and Central Asia] in Les Annales de L'autre Islam (Special issue on Turc D'Europe et D'ailleurs) 3 (1995).

58. İçduygu, Ahmet, Gaining from Migration, OECD (2006).

59. Ibid.

60. Ibid.

61. Ibid.

62. For a detailed elaboration of this issue, see the OECD-SOPEMI Reports of Turkey by İçduygu.

63. İçduygu, Ahmet, Gaining from Migration, OECD (2006).

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International Labor and Working-Class History
  • ISSN: 0147-5479
  • EISSN: 1471-6445
  • URL: /core/journals/international-labor-and-working-class-history
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