Allegations of Labour Abuse Against Migrant Workers in the Gulf

The Allegations Tracker of Abuse Against Migrant Workers in the Gulf tracks publicly reported cases of human and labour rights abuse committed by businesses against migrant workers in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.


These numbers are based on publicly reported allegations of labour rights abuse against migrant workers in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE), in which businesses are implicated. The actual numbers of incidents of abuse and affected migrant workers are believed to be higher.

  • 172


    Publicly reported regarding migrant worker abuse by companies since 2016

  • 57k


    Impacted in the documented cases

  • 80%

    Wage Delays

    Migrant workers most commonly report withheld, delayed or non-payment of wages

  • 63%

    Denial of freedoms

    Withholding passports, non-renewal of visas & preventing protests or strikes all threaten workers' fundamental freedoms

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries rely heavily on migrant labour. There are an estimated 20 million migrant workers in the Gulf; they account for 10% migrants globally and up to 90% of the manual labour force in the Gulf. Despite making significant contributions to the economic development of their host countries and to remittance outflows to their home countries, migrant workers face abuse, discrimination and exploitation by unscrupulous employers, as well as significant obstacles to access justice and remedy.

The Tracker analyses publicly-reported allegations against eight broad categories of abuse, encompassing 20 indicators. The data is currently downloadable at the level of the eight categories, along with an explanation of our methodology, from our website.

Whenever possible we approach named companies to invite them to respond to allegations against them. Between January 2016 and November 2019 we contacted companies 21 times regarding the tracked cases and have only received 4 responses; this does not include the number of companies contacted ahead of the publication of this analysis. Read more about the numerous challenges we face in identifying and contacting companies regarding cases of labour abuse committed in the Gulf.

Companies named in cases from the Middle East & North Africa region have a response rate of 53%, far less than our global average of 73%. Across the GCC countries this is even lower, averaging at 35%, since outreach began in 2007.

Before publishing this infographic we invited companies allegedly involved in the abuses to comment. Four companies responded: Bee’ah, PfeiferKempinski and Bahrain Motors Co.

This tracker will be updated on a monthly basis and informs the statistics on the Migrants in the Gulf project page. If you would like more information on reading and accessing the data or would like to submit a case to the tracker, please contact [email protected].

Blog: 2019 International Migrants Day

We face numerous challenges to identify and hold companies accountable for labour abuses in the Gulf. This blog examines some of these challenges and how we address them through our work.

Read the blog

Find Out More

Latest Analysis

To mark 2019 International Migrants Day, we analysed all allegations tracked from Jan 2016 to Nov 2019.

Download Data

Download and view all allegations and our analysis of the labour abuse.


How do we reach our numbers? Take a look at our methodology.