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Little empirical studies have examined Sub-Saharan African labor migration to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, particularly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With growing unemployment and sociopolitical conflicts, combined with increasing immigration restrictions in the West, many Sub-Saharan African labor migrants have increasingly migrating to the GCC countries as temporary labor migrants, entrepreneurs, refugees, and students. Unlike other foreign labor migrants, many Sub-Saharan Africans tend to have acquired more formal education and advanced professional qualifications. Yet they often severely face deskilling problems in the UAE, which directly impact their social and economic contribution (i.e. remittances, knowledge transfer) to their origin countries. Drawing from 50 in-depth qualitative interviews and newspaper/document analyses, we examine the labor migration integration patterns, causes, and implications of deskilling on high-skilled Cameroonian labor migrants in the UAE. Several causes of deskilling problems among Cameroonian labor migrants have been identified: (1) non-recognition of foreign credentials; (2) social/racial prejudices; (3) unorganized social network institutions/communities; and (4) absence of the Cameroonian state embassy/consulate in the host country. These labor market constraints do not only produce economic losses and psychological/health related problems, but also reinforce their low-skilled labor market segmentation in the UAE labor market. It also raises critical questions about the appropriate role of the Cameroonian state in managing contemporary labor migration as a development strategy. This paper will also broadly examine the role of Cameroonian labor migrants as development agents in Cameroonian future development process.


Suggested Citation
Malit, F. T. & Oliver, T. (2013). Labor migration and deskilling in the United Arab Emirates: Impacts on Cameroonian labor migrants. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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