Season of Migration from the Oil Lake: The Economy of Hatred in the Gulf States

D. Rashed Alrasheed ( is Fellow at the Richardson Institute, Lancaster University and author of COVID-19 and the Hatred of Expatriate Workers in the Gulf States

In 2020, the spread of the epidemic in the Gulf States among expats has led to an increase in hate speech towards them. According to Human Rights Watch, COVID-19 had spread rapidly among foreign workers in the Gulf States because they live in small, indecent and unsanitary housing. The Gulf governments have not been able to follow measures of social distancing among expatriates because their places of residence are overcrowded and they live in isolated and poor areas.

With the outbreak of the epidemic, health authorities in the Gulf countries have published through newspapers and TV channels the numbers of new infections among foreigners and citizens in order to alleviate the citizens’ fears. However, the publication of statistics in the media to distinguish the spread of the epidemic between expatriates and citizens has led to an increase in hate speech towards foreign workers. Although there are political and social reasons for xenophobia, economic factors have a major impact on the growth of hate speech against expat workers.

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