The Moral Panic Over Chinese in Egypt

by Jessica Winegar
published in MER270

On a brisk autumn evening in 2010, male coffee shop patrons in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek were treated to the sight of young Chinese women in miniskirts circulating to hand out brochures for a new massage parlor. It was an unusual sight indeed for Egyptian public space -- both the women’s attire and the presence of so many Chinese. Besides a small number of Chinese Muslim students at al-Azhar University, Chinese immigration to Egypt is a very new phenomenon.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Saudis' Mass Expulsions Putting Somalis in Danger

by Laetitia Bader , Adam Coogle | published March 18, 2014

In 2013, Mohamed, a 22-year old Somali, was making a living washing cars in Saudi Arabia. Late that year, due to increasing government pressure on employers of undocumented workers, he was fired. In December, after several weeks without a job, Mohamed handed himself over to the police. He spent the next 57 days detained in appalling conditions. “In the first detention center in Riyadh, there was so little food, we fought over it,” he said. “So the strongest ate the most. Guards told us to face the wall and then beat our backs with metal rods. In the second place, there were two toilets for 1,200 people, including dozens of children.” Mohamed is now in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

New Documentary on US Military's Migrant Workers

by Darryl Li | published March 7, 2014 - 9:43am

Starting today, Al Jazeera’s “Fault Lines” will air “America’s War Workers,” a documentary by MERIP editor Anjali Kamat (@anjucomet) on the use of migrant workers by the US military.

Looking Across the Mediterranean

by Rosemary Sayigh
published in MER124

"Femmes de la Mediterranée," Peuples Mediterraneens/Mediterranean Peoples 22-23 (January-June 1983).

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Women and Labor Migration

One Egyptian Village

by Fatma Khafagy
published in MER124

Women are now the heads of between 25 and 35 percent of all households in developing countries. [1] In the Middle East and North Africa, women head about 16 percent of all households. [2] One main reason for the increasing number of households headed by women is male migration to seek work outside their own countries, unaccompanied by their wives and children. When male villagers from Egypt emigrate, they do so without their families. [3] For one thing, a large number emigrate illegally, with neither official work contracts nor legal residence in countries of employment. It is much easier for them to move alone and leave their families behind.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Yemeni Workers Abroad

The Impact on Women

by Cynthia Myntti
published in MER124

In Yemen one often hears the hypothesis that as men migrate abroad in search of work, women move into male economic and political roles, at least within the household. The assumption is that women take over production tasks and decisionmaking which have always been the responsibility of men. While this may well be happening in some communities in Yemen, the evidence in one village of Ta‘izz province, in the southern part of the country, suggests that the domestic effects of migration might not be simply to “fill the vacuum” created by the absence of men. [1]

Egyptian Migration and Peasant Wives

by Elizabeth Taylor
published in MER124

In the 1960s, Egypt supplied the labor markets of the Middle East with professionals and administrators seconded by the government. Carefully regulated and controlled, the export of labor was consistent both with Egypt’s policies in the area and with its own manpower needs. In the 1970s, government-seconded labor was overtaken in volume by a huge and largely unregulated flow of labor at all skill levels. By 1975, Egypt had overtaken Yemen as the major exporter of labor in the area, and its share of the total Arab migrant labor market had reached one third. By 1980, Egypt had at least doubled its migrant stock, an estimated 10 percent of which are women.

The Yemenis of the San Joaquin

by Ron Kelley
published in MER139

Musa (“Moses”) Saleh laughs now at his expectations as a new immigrant to the United States. “We were fooled,” he says, reflecting on the first morning when he prepared for his new job as an apricot picker in California. “We didn’t know what kind of work our Yemeni friends had been doing here…. I dressed up in a suit and necktie and a nice pair of shoes and walked in and everyone started laughing. Well, I saw their clothes. I didn’t have to see anything else. Regular clothes, apricot juice all over them….

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Sojourners and Settlers

Yemenis in America

by Jon C. Swanson
published in MER139

The United States is a nation of common people from marginal environments. In spite of contemporary America’s preoccupation with coats of arms, few of our ancestors were the children of privilege. Nor did they come from lush plains or fecund valleys. More often it was the mountains and hill country they left behind, where stony soils, forests, or harsh weather made farming difficult and made them willing to tear themselves away and take their chances in far-off America. They were Irish from Kerry and Donegal, Italians from Sicily and Abruzzo, Romanians from the mountains of Transylvania and Swedes from the forests of Smaland and Dalarna.

Sojourners and Settlers: An Introduction

by Jonathan Friedlander , Joe Stork
published in MER139

The full moon over Mecca marked the end of the holy month of pilgrimage. Ten thousand miles away in California, a Yemeni work crew gathered around a pickup truck with its precious cargo of sheep destined for sacrifice. A group of cowboys looked on, bewildered. These farmworkers are part of a two-decade old migration of tens of thousands of workers from Yemen to oil-rich Persian Gulf countries and, in smaller numbers, to Europe and the United States.