Regional consultative process on overseas employment and contractual labor for countries of origin in Asia

Abu Dhabi Dialogue


The Third Ministerial Consultation of the Colombo Process took place in Bali, Indonesia, in September 2005 and was greatly enriched by the active participation of countries of destination (such as UAE, bahrain, Italy and Malaysia) as observers. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the groundbreaking step of hosting the inaugural Ministerial Consultation between Asian destination countries and Colombo Process countries in Abu Dhabi on 21 and 22 January 2008.  The Ministerial Consultation, referred to as the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue,” brought together for the first time the Colombo Process countries with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, plus Yemen and two additional Asian countries of destination, namely Malaysia and Singapore.” The Abu Dhabi Dialogue therefore constitutes a milestone in regional cooperation on contractual labour mobility.


The Abu Dhabi Declaration launched a collaborative approach to short-term labour mobility in Asia in order to maximize benefits for all. It focuses on developing four key, action-oriented strategic partnerships between countries of origin and destination for development around the premise of temporary contractual labour, based on a notion of partnership and shared accountability: The Abu Dhabi Dialogue was established in 2008 and currently has 20 member states.

The eleven countries of origin are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The nine destination countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

In addition, France, Germany, Mauritius, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Poland and the United States have observer status while the European Commission (EC) is a partner of the Dialogue.

The broad purpose of the first meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue was to provide a forum for the discussion of new ideas and concrete activities towards the development of a comprehensive and practical framework for the management of temporary contractual labour mobility in Asia.  Particular focus was placed on promoting the welfare and well-being of workers, on the development of both origin and destination countries through labour mobility, and on fostering greater inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration, with the active support of international and regional partners.


The key focus of the dialogue included:


  • Developing and sharing knowledge on labour market trends, skills profiles, workers and remittances policies and flows, and the relationship to progress
  • Building capacity for more effective harmonizing of labour supply and demand
  • Preventing illegal recruitment and promoting welfare and protection measures for contractual workers
  • Developing a structure for a comprehensive approach to managing the entire cycle of temporary contractual work that fosters the common interest of countries of origin and destination.

The current priority of the dialogue is to identify the role and responsibilities of both the government and the private sector at every stage of the contractual work cycle. This includes every phase beginning with recruitment, preparation, movement, working in the host country, return and finally reintegration in the country of origin. It also focuses on the implementation of projects with tangible outcomes so that all partners are benefited. One other priority is strengthening the regional framework on temporary contractual labor mobility.

IOM provides technical expertise and support to the Abu-Dhabi Dialogue.


Abu Dhabi Dialogue - Report

Abu Dhabi Declaration
ADD List of Participants


Colombo Process Secretariat

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