In November, world leaders from government and business will gather at the G20 Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia. A statement on the Summit released by the Saudi Arabia government speaks of “Empowering People” and addressing a global economy that “is not delivering for all” and as “inequalities are growing amidst a rapidly evolving environment.” The ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will undoubtedly be a major topic for discussion. Under its presidency of the G20 this year, Saudi Arabia promises to “focus on policies that promote the equality of opportunities especially for underserved groups.”
As this report documents, the ground reality is very different from these noble aspirations. governments and businesses in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and, to a lesser extent in Qatar, have been guilty of racial discrimination in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, acting quickly to provide financial and other benefits to local business and nationals, while leaving thousands of migrant workers in jobless destitution and, in some instances, facing death, and the ever-present risk of being infected by a deadly virus.