NEW DELHI: The number of emigration clearances granted to Indians headed to the Gulf for employment has halved to 3.7 lakh in 2017 from 7.6 lakh in 2015.
On top of that, there has also been a marked change in Indians’ preferred destination as far as Gulf countries are concerned. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) emerged as the top destination for Indian workers to West Asia, with nearly 1.5 lakh heading there to make some moolah, overtaking Saudi Arabia which saw just 78,000 Indians landing up there – a drop of 74 per cent from the 3.06 lakh Indians in 2015.
The reason for a greater influx of Indian workers into UAE is the relaxation of its migration policies for professionals. In contrast, countries like Oman have tightened the screws on immigration by extending their hiring freeze for another 6 months, till December-end, while Saudi Arabia lost its charm due to the imposition of the family tax, wherein an expat worker has to pay a levy of Saudi Arabian Riyal 100 per month per dependent, which will double every year.
While blue-collar Indian workers, such as labourers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and drivers, dominated the labour scene in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) till now, industry watchers say there is now a gradual shift, with more white-collar workers from India also showing interest in the Gulf.
According to a recent World Bank report, India continued to be the top recipient of remittances from overseas, which added up to $69 billion in 2017, and roughly 56% of it came from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.