Decent Work for Migrants in the Middle East

This program contributes to decent work opportunities for migrants and refugees in the Middle East which is one of the largest migrant hosting regions globally due to economic demands and displacement from conflict. It complements the focus on Asian migrants with migrants from Africa and seek closer partnership with the private sector. Due to its relevant expertise and experience in decent work and fair recruitment, Switzerland is well placed to contribute to an improved protection and an enhanced wellbeing of migrant workers and self-reliance for refugees, to maximize the productive potential of migration, and to counter irregular and unsafe migration.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
MENA Regional
Employment & economic development
SME development
Labour migration
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
15.07.2019 - 31.10.2024
CHF  9’000’000
Background Migration to the Middle East is undergoing change. Increasing number of migrant workers originate from Africa, demand for migrant domestic workers (mainly women) is surging, and large-scale infrastructure projects are dwindling as a result of economic transformation, which will lead to a decrease of blue-collar worker in the region. Addressing forced displacement, which is becoming increasingly protracted and confronted with funding shortfalls, requires long-term approaches that enhance self-reliance and durable solutions alongside protection interventions.  
Objectives The overall objective of the program is to enhance the productive potential of labor migration and the wellbeing of migrant and refugee workers through improved labor migration regulations and processes as well as targeted services.
Target groups

Migrant and refugee workers in low-skilled occupations (domestic work, construction, service sector, garment sector, etc.) in the Middle East.

National governments and regional inter-governmental bodies (Abu Dhabi Dialogue, UN Working Group on Migration in Arab States)

Private sector, social enterprises employers and business associations, individual employers

Civil society organizations, research institutes and think-tanks

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: National and regional-level initiatives strengthen labor migration governance along key migration corridors with Asia and Africa.

Outcome 2: Women and men migrant and refugee workers are enabled to sustain the social and economic benefits of safe and regular migration

Outcome 3: Private sector actors and employers make targeted efforts to improve work conditions for migrant and refugee workers in low skilled sectors.


Expected results:  

High quality data and research on migration and development in the Middle East is produced

National, regional and interregional dialogues and initiatives contribute to increased collaboration and monitoring of international commitments

Skilling (vocational, language, IT) opportunities are provided to migrant workers and digital financial services for remittance transfers are available

Private sector actors participate in initiatives that address migration challenges and harness the benefits of migration.

Results from previous phases:  

Significant policy reforms have been adopted across the region, which underscores a dynamic environment and continued improvements to the governance of labor migration. 

SDC has an exceptionally strong profile as the main bilateral donor on migration & development in the region. This provides opportunities for leverage in- and outside the Middle East.

African migration to the Middle East is on the increase. Maintaining of existing protection levels for workers and experience-sharing with Asian sending countries will be key.

SDC’s protection focus remains central; but a complementary engagement on harnessing the benefits of migration will improve its programmatic impact. 

Businesses and employers can be important allies that share SDC objectives. Closer ties with the private sector going forward will strengthen the alliance for policy reform.   

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
Foreign state institution
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Labor Organization
  • International Organisation for Migration
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Other UN Organisation
  • Foreign private sector North
  • Swiss Private Sector
  • United Nations Development Programme

Coordination with other projects and actors


SDC/CEP, SEM, HSD, Embassies of Switzerland in the Gulf

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    9’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    8’853’781 Budget of the organisation CHF   -1 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   14’830’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   23’830’000
Project phases Phase 4 01.10.2023 - 30.09.2027   (Current phase) Phase 3 15.07.2019 - 31.10.2024   (Current phase) Phase 2 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019   (Completed) Phase 1 01.05.2012 - 31.07.2015   (Completed)