Among all the Gulf nations, the largest outflow of Indian workers in 2018 was to UAE, with about 1 lakh (or 35%) of the total workers being granted emigration clearances. It was followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with 65,000-odd and 52,000-odd workers headed to these countries.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia had relinquished its position as being the most attractive destination among Gulf countries for Indian workers. In its edition dated August 22, 2017, TOI had analysed the Nitaqat scheme for protection of local workers – the decline in expat workers, including from India is attributed to this scheme and the economic conditions.
Qatar stands out by being the only country in the Gulf region, where the number of workers shows an increase in 2018 as compared to the previous year. Nearly 32,500 workers headed to Qatar were granted emigration clearances, as compared to close to 25,000 in 2017, which is a rise of 31%.
“This could be because of increased labour requirement as the country prepares to host the World Cup, 2022” says a Mumbai based labour recruiter. However, there have been some reports of non-payment to Indian workers by unscrupulous employers, an instance of a construction agency not paying nearly 600 workers was recently in the spotlight. Washington headquartered think-tank, The Middle East Institute, says there are an estimated 6 to 7.50 lakh Indian migrant workers in Qatar, constituting the largest expatriate community and nearly double the number of native Qataris.
According to a reply given by the ministry of external affairs in Lok Sabha last December, there are several reasons for the decrease in numbers. “Prominent among them is that the Gulf countries are passing through a period of economic slowdown primarily because of the slump in oil prices.”
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