The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is dwelling to a sizeable Syrian group, a majority of whom have arrived there as non permanent migrant staff following the oil growth within the Seventies. A lot of them stayed on with their households, resulting in second and third technology UAE-born Syrians residing within the UAE underneath non permanent renewable visas, as a result of strict migration regimes that stop everlasting settlement and naturalisation of most migrants within the UAE. Whereas this group’s multigenerational existence within the UAE might counsel that they’re non permanent on paper solely, the battle in Syria has had important results on their sense of long-term safety within the UAE, in addition to their international mobility as Syrian passport holders. Because of this, most of them have sturdy incentives to attempt to circumvent each the restrictions tied to their citizenship by start, and their non permanent standing within the UAE, by pursuing ‘stronger’ passports from elsewhere.

My analysis with UAE-born Syrians between 2016 and 2020 explored their concerns and experiences of onward migration from the UAE. My respondents thought-about on-migration to safe a much less ambiguous future for themselves than is on the market within the UAE, which they see as ‘dwelling’, however which has not been formalised as such. My analysis reveals that within the context of restricted choices for mobility and safety, various pathways for long run safety emerge, together with via asylum-seeking in a 3rd nation. Drawing on debates on strategic citizenship and sophisticated migration journeys, this paper illustrates how the experiences of UAE-born Syrians, within the context of the continuing political turmoil in Syria, straddle the a lot critiqued but on-going dichotomies in migration research, resembling between non permanent and everlasting, pressured and voluntary types of migration. This contribution argues that in a context the place the choice to citizenship acquisition in host nation is foreclosed to migrants, and migrants have very restricted (or no) choices for residential safety elsewhere, their onward journeys for citizenship acquisition might be thought-about strategic, however not out of volition.

Syrians within the UAE

Within the UAE, non-nationals, together with these born and raised there, are sometimes unable to acquire native citizenship or everlasting residency regardless of constituting 90 % of the inhabitants. Though the UAE has launched long run visas and even pathways to Emirati citizenship lately, these reforms solely goal extremely expert migrants, entrepreneurs, and buyers (Fattah and Abu Omar 2021). Thus, the vast majority of migrants within the UAE are regulated via renewable, sponsored, non permanent visas, often called kafala.

Syrians traditionally represent one of many largest teams of Arab migrants working within the Gulf States (Babar, 2017:7). Their migration trajectories to the UAE fluctuate traditionally and occupationally. A few of them have arrived as early because the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties to work in expert jobs resembling judges, lecturers, engineers, bankers, medical doctors or as entrepreneurs and businessmen. Within the Seventies, they had been additionally more and more seen in lesser-skilled and decrease paying jobs, working in administrative and technical posts within the military, ports, municipality and native banks (Babar, 2017).

Presently, an estimated 242,000 Syrians stay within the UAE, and the UAE authorities has acknowledged that 100,000 of them have entered the UAE because the begin of the battle in 2011 (De Bel-Air, 2015: 10). While political instability at dwelling makes the Gulf States a lovely place to settle and stay for many Arab migrants, together with Syrians, they aren’t signatories to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Conference and don’t have any official framework for managing or accepting refugees or asylum seekers (Babar, 2017:9). Due to this fact, Syrians within the UAE, together with those that have arrived since 2011, are ruled via the kafala system, and will not be provided formal provisions for safer residency, or safety from deportation (see The Nationwide, 2018, for advert hoc resolutions for Syrians within the UAE).

Though Syrians might discover strategic options to fight their non permanent scenario within the UAE, their skill to take action is finally decided by class, social networks, in addition to their nationality (Ruhs, 2013; Vora, 2013; Valenta, 2020). Geopolitical considerations are central to migration coverage making within the Gulf and so they have traditionally formed patterns of migration (see Babar, 2014; Kinninmonth, 2015; Jamal, 2015). But, we have to higher perceive how these considerations, resembling battle in origin nations, form Gulf migrants’ want and talent to maneuver onwards, and the advanced pathways they develop to entry the long-term safety of another passport. We additionally must pay explicit consideration to how Gulf-born migrants expertise the ripple results of the political scenario of their nations of citizenship (see Jamal, 2017; Soudy, 2017; Taylor et al. 2017). The truth that being ‘completely non permanent’ is intergenerational within the Gulf States, that means that youngsters of non permanent staff inherit their dad and mom’ citizenship and immigration standing by start, is a novel case to introduce to the research of citizenship and migration.

UAE-born Syrians are a superb instance. Because the begin of the Syrian civil battle in 2011, Syrians have been subjected to more durable border controls, residency visa renewals and safety checks within the Gulf and globally (Babar, 2014; Kinninmonth, 2015). As residency within the UAE is predominantly linked to work permits, not with the ability to renew residencies has severe implications, starting from not with the ability to enrol youngsters in faculties, to not with the ability to work and earn a residing wage (De Bel-Air, 2015:11). Furthermore, to be able to renew non permanent visas within the UAE, migrants must have a legitimate passport. Nonetheless, political instability in Syria impacts the Syrian authorities’ skill or want to resume passports for his or her nationals residing overseas, together with within the UAE (Surak, 2021:177). Army service is obligatory for Syrian nationals, together with these residing overseas. Failing to attend or pay the exemption price, Syrian authorities refuse to resume passports, which has direct penalties for renewing their residencies within the UAE (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 2014). Furthermore, at 800$, Syrian passports are additionally the costliest to subject and renew globally (Alarabiya, 2017).

If Syrians within the UAE lose their non permanent work or residency visas, their choices of transferring to a 3rd nation are extraordinarily restricted, contemplating that Syrian passports have misplaced most of their worth when it comes to stability and mobility as a result of battle, and selective border controls apply most strictly to this group (see Passport Index 2021). Furthermore, as a result of unstable political scenario in Syria, ‘return’ just isn’t a viable choice. In actual fact, UAE-born Syrians can turn into refugees in the event that they lose their non permanent residency (see Babar, Ewers and Khattab 2018, 1554). On this context, a rich minority of Syrians within the UAE purchases passports via ‘Citizenship by Funding’ programmes (Maceda, 2018). For center class Syrians, like different Gulf migrants, migrating to a Western nation for larger schooling or work, within the hope of ultimately naturalising, can be a typical technique (Ali, 2011). Nonetheless, research and work visas are more and more arduous to acquire, and had been by no means an choice for almost all of Syrians within the UAE and elsewhere (Khaishgi, 2017). For Syrians with restricted sources or choices, asylum looking for in European Union nations additionally emerged as a final resort, as this research exhibits. Importantly, it is a results of having no acceptable options to their unstable authorized standing within the Gulf. This brings me to briefly evaluation the prevailing conceptual debates on strategic citizenship and sophisticated onward migration journeys.

Results of battle at ‘dwelling’ on non permanent migrants

Within the context of a world inequality, the place people’ mobility in addition to residential safety is set by the passports they maintain, pursuing citizenship from privileged nations is known as compensational, strategic and pragmatic (Mavroudi, 2006; Harpaz and Mateos, 2018). Restrictive migration regimes and geopolitical considerations are prevalent globally and they’re integral to the copy of worldwide inequalities premised in citizenship, offering a central context to know why another passport is interesting to sure populations. As an example, residential insecurity, arising from restrictive citizenship and immigration insurance policies, is instantly linked to questions of citizenship and why it issues for many who are excluded from it in host nations (Prepare dinner-Martin, 2019; Bloemraad and Sheares, 2017). Moreover, geopolitical considerations, resembling battle, or common political instability, situation the demand for an additional passport, because it offers means for primary safety and a particular place to stay in a world context of hostile border regimes. Thus, a liminal authorized standing amongst migrants who may in any other case be labeled as refugees, such because the Syrians mentioned on this paper, creates added obstacles (see Menjivar, 2006; Babar, Ewers and Khattab 2018).

With a purpose to have a fuller image of when, how, for whom and in what contexts citizenship issues – necessary questions that require additional consideration and investigation in citizenship research (Bloemraad and Sheares, 2017) –, it’s obligatory to mix the literature on strategic citizenship with that on advanced migration journeys. Whereas strategic citizenship acknowledges worldwide migration as a key technique to avoid inequalities premised on citizenship (Surak, 2021, 171), it stays largely disengaged from necessary conceptual discussions in migration research, resembling on volition, company, and migrant decision-making. Because of this, the experiences of people that attempt to entry the safety provided by stronger passports is usually studied via a binary lens of pressured migrants, e.g. asylum seekers and refugees (Kibreab, 2003; Miller, 2001; Gibney, 2014), versus strategic naturalisers, resembling rich and middle-class people from non-Western nations who pursue higher passports as a type of insurance coverage coverage (see Surak, 2021; Harpaz and Mateos, 2018).

In non permanent migration regimes like within the UAE, migrants are at perpetual danger of dropping residency rights no matter their citizenship. However ought to their dwelling nations expertise sudden shifts in political circumstances, this danger grows exponentially, resulting in a perceived necessity for citizenship acquisition from elsewhere. This course of might be understood as circumstantial migration (see Carling and Haugen 2020), as altering circumstances lead to unpredicted, advanced onward migration journeys, for instance asylum-seeking, which migrants wouldn’t have thought-about earlier than. Complexities of their onward migration, nevertheless, can’t be captured via prevailing classes, resembling between non permanent/everlasting and compelled/voluntary types of migration. By assuming that individuals transfer in linear style, these descriptive classes are likely to ignore that experiences in addition to motivations of people can change over area and time, comparable to plenty of socio-economic and political circumstances within the contexts they inhabit (Crawley & Skleparis, 2018: 55; see Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, 2011 for ‘overlapping’ and ‘a number of’ refugeehoods).

At a conceptual degree, circumstances join with the analytical dialogue on volition, options and choices, which Erdal and Oeppen deliver ahead (2018). Circumstances are key in understanding volition in migration selections, as a result of they (re)form the fundamental wants of migrants of their explicit context, in addition to a spread of options obtainable to them in the event that they determine to not migrate (Erdal and Oeppen, 2018:985; Crawley and Skleparis, 2018; Gibney, 2011:48).  These options can change alongside a migration journey, as Erdal and Oeppen focus on. But, within the case of Syrians within the UAE, their choices, for instance for long-term safety and mobility, change while they reside of their host nation as non permanent residents, due to what is occurring in Syria, the nation they maintain passports from. It’s within the context of those altering circumstances that they contemplate, or expertise, onward migration journeys, essentially questioning dichotomous migration classes, and illustrating a brand new instance of a fancy migration trajectory (see Snel, Bilgili and Staring 2020).

First, the dichotomy between pressured versus voluntary migration fails to account for the temporal and circumstantial points of Gulf migrants’ onward journeys to Western nations. The experiences of Syrians holding non permanent residencies within the UAE will not be thought-about as unstable to the identical extent as these fleeing battle in Syria. Nonetheless, a sudden shift in political circumstances, resembling battle in Syria, might intensify their sense of temporariness within the UAE, and instigate a necessity for citizenship acquisition from elsewhere. But, the options for citizenship acquisition for these teams are doubly restricted, as they don’t have any entry to permanency of their host nations, and their skill to maneuver onward is constrained by strict border regimes focusing on residents of politically unstable nations (Shaheen, 2017). Since their choice for onward migration is to a big diploma motivated by accessing long-term residential safety that’s not provided within the UAE, their experiences are higher understood as ‘being pressured to go away’, even when they migrate onwards underneath so known as voluntary classes, resembling for schooling or work.

Second, considering of migrants within the UAE and the Gulf when it comes to both everlasting or non permanent limits our understanding of the that means of those locations for them and their choice for onward migration. Though a physique of literature illustrates the difficulties of framing migrant experiences and classes as both non permanent or everlasting (see Bailey, 2002, Rajkumar, 2012), there may be an ongoing, Eurocentric notion that perceives all non permanent residencies of migrants as transit locations, or in different phrases ‘meaningless non permanent refuges earlier than migrants attain their closing vacation spot’ (Snel, Bilgili and Staring 2020, 4). This is likely to be the case for stepwise migrants within the Gulf, who’ve pre-determined goals of onward migration to Western nations, and who take particular actions to realize that (Valenta, 2020). Nonetheless, this notion ignores the distinctive scenario of Gulf-born migrants, who regardless of being labelled as non permanent, are de facto from the Gulf, and understand these locations as their major dwelling. In actual fact, for many of them, migrating to a 3rd nation is seen as a short lived step to amass citizenship and ultimately return to the Gulf with a ‘stronger passport’ (see Akinci, 2019; Jamal, 2017; Ali, 2011; Surak, 2021, 177). This exhibits that limiting paths to citizenship within the Gulf has necessary results on the best way migrants understand the worth and that means of citizenship normally.

Conclusion and Outlook

By way of the experiences of UAE born Syrians, I illustrated how in restrictive migration contexts resembling within the UAE, a sudden shift in political circumstances in origin nations, such because the on-going battle in Syria, instantly impacts the choices and options migrants have for long run safety and stability.

It’s on this context that UAE-born Syrians discover citizenship acquisition elsewhere more and more interesting, but their skill to maneuver onwards is constrained by strict border regimes, even for these with ample monetary belongings. This paper argues that when migrants don’t have any manner of acquiring citizenship in a number nation, and have restricted (or no) choices for residential safety elsewhere, their onward journeys to amass passports might be framed as strategic, however not voluntary. That is significantly the case for migrants who had been born and raised in host states, however who inherited a scarcity of primary rights to residency and safety from deportation as second- or third-generation migrants. Consequently, asylum looking for in a 3rd nation emerges as an choice for many who have restricted sources, as this paper exhibits. Even when these populations have ample sources to maneuver onwards underneath ‘voluntary classes’, resembling for work, larger schooling, or household unification, their motivations to undertake a journey to entry long-term residential safety place them in migration classes that could possibly be rendered as “being pressured to go away”. Furthermore, their onward journeys are sometimes described by migrants as a short lived step that enables them to amass a (Western) passport to return ‘dwelling’ – to the UAE – ‘completely’. In so doing, this contribution offers an instance of advanced migration journeys, and contributes to analytical discussions on voluntariness, alternative and options when onward migration is taken into account in pursuit of another citizenship.

The main target of future educational inquiry shouldn’t be on whether or not to classify migrants resembling those that had been the topic of this textual content as non permanent or everlasting, voluntary or pressured, however to know what pushes them to hunt various permanencies elsewhere, and underneath what situations. This additionally requires us to deliver debates on strategic citizenship and sophisticated migration journeys nearer collectively, as altering circumstances can instantly form why and the way citizenship issues, and what choices and pathways are there to entry it. Contemplating the prevalence of each restrictive immigration insurance policies globally and geopolitical considerations that inform border coverage making, comparable advanced journeys might be foreseen amongst different migrant teams within the UAE, and wider Gulf, in addition to in different non permanent migration contexts. Most not too long ago, as we witness the Taliban take over Afghanistan, and subsequent tales of former President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan civilians taking ‘refuge’ or non permanent safety within the UAE, we must always flip our consideration to Afghans who settled within the UAE for many years and throughout generations, and perceive how the sudden political shift in Afghanistan impacts their future safety and mobility, both within the UAE or elsewhere.


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