This study focuses on what has become commonly known as the ‘demographic disorder’ in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). At the general level, the ‘demographic disorder’ refers to the over-reliance on expatriates – in various areas and prominently within labour forces (both highly specialized as well as unskilled) – in GCC societies, where expatriates constitute a majority of the population in four of the GCC countries and a majority of the labour force in all six member states. This study focuses particularly on demographic developments and trends over the first decade of the new millennium, especially the phenomenon of ‘international mega-real estate’ projects aimed at expatriates. This phenomenon has taken central stage in four countries of the GCC (Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE), where the policies and actions of decision-makers have been squarely directed towards making these projects primary engines of growth in their respective economies. The central thesis of this study holds that these mega-real estate projects signal a qualitative shift in the manner in which decision-makers view the issue of the ‘demographic disorder’. While the overreliance on expatriates was previously seen as a necessary and unavoidable by-product of economic growth that had to be tolerated and regulated in order to meet the dictates of economic production, migrant inflow of a very specific and peculiar kind has now been adopted as a central goal required in order to fill these newly constructed cities and to boost economic demand and consumption in the region.

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