Bahrain parliament's session in progress. Image Credit: BNA

Manama: Bahrain’s Council of Representatives has rejected a proposal to ban foreigners over 50 from working in Bahrain.

The proposal, submitted in a bid to boost employment chances for Bahrainis, had already been opposed by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Such a proposal clashes with international covenants and is not in the interests of Bahrain,” MP Ali Al Aradi, the First Deputy Speaker, said. “There are various sectors that do need people with experience and expertise.”

MP Isa Al Kooheji said that Bahrain could widely benefit from foreign experience.

“In some sectors, the older the person gets, the more experienced he or she becomes and the better he or she passes his or her skills to others, and I can cite medicine and law, for instance,” he said.

Al Kooheji insisted that he was not opposed to more Bahrainis taking up new jobs.

“I have never said that Bahrainis were not competent enough, but I do say that it is highly significant that we obtain experience from foreigners for the sake of our people.”

The lawmaker was reacting to a statement by fellow MP Jalal Kadhem that he had stated that Bahrainis lacked competence.

“There are highly competent Bahrainis who have the ability to compete with foreigners,” Kadhem said.

He added that foreigners were being employed at a much faster and wider rate than Bahrainis in the private sector where they are given greater perks.

However, MP Adel Al Assoomi said that Bahrainis should be made to replace foreigners without being properly qualified and trained to meet the needs of the labour market.

Slightly more than half of the total population of Bahrain are foreigners, mainly unskilled and low-skilled Asians working in the construction and service sectors.

Bahrainis, men and women, often hold advanced positions in skill-based positions as ambitious programmes sponsored or supported by the Supreme Council for Women, the official body tasked with elevating the political, economic and social status of Bahraini women, are being implemented to ensure the empowerment of women across all sectors.