Newsroom, Jan 12: The number of Indian workers emigrating to Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf countries has declined sharply in last few years thanks to the economic slowdown in the Middle East triggered by weak oil prices.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs of Indian government, emigration clearances granted to Indians headed to the Gulf for employment have dropped by 21%, standing at 2.95 lakh during the 11-month period ended November 30, 2018, as compared to 2017.
The five-year outflow of Indian workers to Gulf peaked in 2014 at 7.76 lakh. Compared to that figure, the decline in 2018 is as high as 62%. These statistics are drawn from the e-Migrate emigration clearance data, which captures emigration clearances issued to workers holding ECR (emigration check required) passports.
As of the middle of 2015, Indians made up one-third of the migrants to the six oil-rich Arab countries – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar – and accounted for 15% of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries' entire population, according to data from the United Nations Population Division's 'International Migrant Stock 2015'.
During 2018, the largest outflow was to UAE, comprising 1.03 lakh (or 35%) of the total workers granted emigration clearances. This was followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with 65,000 and 52,000 workers headed to these countries.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia had relinquished its position as the most attractive destination among Gulf countries for Indian workers. In 2014, nearly 3.30 lakh workers had migrated to Saudi Arabia-over a five-year period the decline has been a sharp 80%.
According to a reply given by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the 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. Coupled with this, the Gulf countries are aiming at filling up maximum posts both in public and private sector with their own nationals."
Migration of Indians to Gulf countries including Saudi, UAE drops 62% over 5 years