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Tue 22 Nov 2011 09:40 AM

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UAE sees Indian workforce shrink as home salaries rise

UAE consulate sees fall in visa numbers as India boom keeps workers at home

UAE sees Indian workforce shrink as home salaries rise
Indias construction boom has decreased the labour pool for the Gulf states

The Indian Consulate in the UAE saw a fall in new visas for Indian nationals last year for the first time, as rising salaries in the Asian state kept workers at home.

The Gulf state is likely to see a steady decline in blue-collar migrants as India’s economic growth offers better opportunities to workers, the Consul General told Arabian Business.

“Last year, for the first time ever, the Indian Consulate served less passports than in 2009 so that would be an indication that the number of Indians declined coming to the UAE,” Sanjay Verma said on the sidelines of the 5th Arabian Business Forum. “Passport services saw a two percent drop.

“The numbers are declining because of the demand for labour in India. The civil construction sector has a shortage of civil engineers and skilled workers, plumbing and carpentry.”

[Click here for pictures from the forum]

The Asian state has rolled out a National Rural Employment Guarantee Act which offers 100 days of work a year to rural households, giving employment to workers in villages who traditionally have looked abroad for jobs.

“The advantage of that is it is offered it to you in your home town or village so that has taken away some workers who otherwise would have come abroad,” Verma said.

The Gulf plays host to millions of migrants, primarily from Asia, who account for the majority of blue-collar workers in the construction, domestic work, and service industries.

An estimated three million migrate each year, sending back an estimated $175bn in remittances annually, according to Human Rights Watch data.

The UAE alone is home to an estimated 1.75 million Indian expatriates, the largest group of foreign workers in the Gulf country. But experts have warned the country may struggle to attract and retain migrants if it fails to keep pace with rising salaries in India.

Minimum wages for unskilled foreign workers in the UAE are as low as AED600 a month, with skilled workers receiving AED1,200 a month, according to the Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi.

By comparison, wages in India, the world’s fastest-growing economy after China, surged by 11.1 percent last year, said recruitment firm GulfTalent in February.

The Indian Ambassador to the UAE said earlier this year the government planned to enforce a minimum wage for Indian nationals hoping to work in the UAE.

If approved, the ruling will mean workers only receive immigration clearance from India if their employment contract meets with a set minimum salary.

Verma said the professional sectors were likely to feel the pinch first as India strives to hold on to homegrown talent and keep pace with its fast-growing economy.  

“It will be more expensive getting Indian workers. It’s already happening in the professional sector, it’s not as easy as it used to be to attract Indian doctors or accountants to come here.”

In 2011, the number of new visas issued by the consulate will be flat, he added.

“I think it’s going to be closer to 2010, probably the same as 2010 but not a drastic increase.”

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Mike DeLonghi 8 years ago

Another clear blow to the inflated projections of population and economic growth. India is the by biggest Expat contributor in the UAE and the especially the higher level guys stay back home it will not be a good indicator for any sort of growth in UAE. Hospitality will still draw, however sectors such as construction and banking/financing are clearly under pressure.

Dubai 8 years ago

Good news. Hopefully the trend will follow for white collar too. India needs its own people and the UAE has enough

debbie 8 years ago

i have already seen a number of white collar white workers find work in india - especially in construction, development, hospitality, and automotive.

Naresh Rag 8 years ago

This is a really true statement because the salaries for the white collar jobs are now at par with the gulf salary standards for Indians. Not to mention there is an increasing number of expats from western and asian countries now working in India.

Mani 8 years ago

I didn’t understand why this people is coming here for a salary of 600. I.e. means 20 AED/day compare to today’s conversion rate (Good rate in the history ) it will be 280 Indian Rupees. I am from Kerala and we have some land with agriculture. Our area there is a daily wage of 400 Indian rupees for the normal farm workers. They are starting the duty at 9.00 am to 1.00 Pm then 2.00 Pm to 5.00 PM (7 hours) less than 1 hour in UAE. But unfortunately we are struggling to get labers . Even they can stay with family and earn more money than here. Still how this attract Indians. If some one know the reason, please explain

Maria 8 years ago

I guess the decline of number of visas are due to lack of jobs in Dubai. Fewer jobs available equals to fewer expatriates coming to Dubai. These expatriates are going to find jobs in other places like their home country.

vrmr 8 years ago

I ha discussed with many blue collar workers, It sad to hear they are cheated, before they come here they were informed food and accomodation, overtime and monthly salary, above all they are charged 50k to 1 lakh. believe it or not most of the people effected are from South. They sell land and gold and come. Whole system is wrong. The UAE government should ban the companies and the persons involved as a crime. This is only the solution and practical

Sam 8 years ago

i think its because they have a provisioned accommodation here (shelter, food, bills etc.) are paid (in their basic forms) and the 600 is, for the large part, take home. i guess that enables them to save some money and send/take back home.

SAS 8 years ago

It’s about time people in the GCC realized the value of Indian workforce. Till now Indians were looked down upon and considered people who invaded the countries and were changing the demographics. Companies/private homes have reaped huge profits and comfort at the expense of the low paid Indian workers. Be it a blue collar or white collar Indian worker or a domestic help or a driver everything gets done very cheaply without any complain because Indians just don’t know how to say no when it comes to work.They are willing to work any hour of the day or night without thinking how what they will be paid.

Sure it’s not impossible to find and replace them by another set of skilled/unskilled workforce. But it will not be the same.

It will be very difficult to convince the next generation of Indians to come and work in the Gulf at such low wages and difficult living conditions for the labouers. One doesn't releazed what they have until its gone.

Now it is time for Pakistanis and Bangladesh

SAS 8 years ago

Now its time for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to follow the exmaple of India and improve the economies.