Millions of expats across the Gulf fear being stuck in a virus limbo as host countries lock down, employers withhold wages or mull redundancies and strict coronavirus containment measures are enforced.
Some labourers in Saudi Arabia, home to 10 million expat workers, complained that they were required by bosses to work while Saudis were permitted paid quarantine leave.
After Saudi Arabia, the UAE hosts the Gulf's second largest migrant labor force with 8.7 million, followed by Kuwait with 2.8 million.
We’ve been in lockdown for the last eight to 10 days, we don’t know when it will end"
Kuwait is considering the possibility of imposing a lockdown on a number of residential areas dominated by expats amid a rise in the number of expatriate coronavirus cases and calls by MPs to isolate those area.
In Qatar, tens of thousands of workers are confined to Doha's Industrial Area after dozens in the blue-collar district tested positive for the covid-19 virus.
Advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty warn that cramped accommodation and inadequate sanitation endanger migrant workers across the Gulf, who may not have access to healthcare.
"We've been in lockdown for the last eight to 10 days, we don't know when it will end," a 27-year-old Pakistani engineer in Qatar beginning a second week under mandatory quarantine told AFP.
"The basic issue we are facing now is groceries. The government is providing us with food but only after some days - and little things only."
The International Labor Organization's Doha office said several employers had transferred staff to more spacious lodgings over fears cramped conditions could incubate the virus, while others have improved hygiene. Ninety percent of Qatar's 2.75 million people are expats.
A Sri Lankan supermarket worker, 23, said his communal villa was sanitized and cleaned in response to covid-19, but anxiety persisted. "I'm homesick - my mother keeps asking me to come back." One Turkish salesman, 49, told AFP he was self-isolating as a precaution and was on unpaid leave. "I'm scared to get infected," said the man who, like many Gulf expats, is ineligible for sick pay.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman has ordered coronavirus treatment to be available, free of charge, for all citizens and expatriates in need of medical care, including people who have overstayed their visas in the kingdom.