The role of colonial knowledge in building the Arab Gulf’s migration regime

Hessa Alnuaimi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I examine how the British Empire in the Arab Gulf created colonial classifications between Gulf Arabs and South Asians. The British racialised the Gulf Arabs in a way which presented them as an eternal, homogeneous, and ‘pure’ group. This racialisation contributed to the exclusion of others within the Gulf, most notably South Asian migrants. Firstly, I discuss some of the gaps within the literature which include the erasure of race and colonialism. Then, I identify how these gaps can be remedied using a Decolonial framework. Based on these theoretical foundations, I interrogate the racialisations of Gulf Arabs and how these racialisations influenced the migration regime in the Gulf. Lastly, I examine how South Asians were racialised in the Gulf. I conclude that the exclusionary migration regime in the Arab Gulf is built on the foundations of the racialised colonial classifications of the British Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-401
Number of pages20
JournalAsian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Race
  • Decoloniality
  • Migration
  • Colonialism


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