In the Gulf, the demand for expat workers is continuously on the rise. According to a study conducted by the Center for Development Studies, a think tank based in India, the demand comes particularly as a result of the construction activity that is taking place in Saudi Arabia.
S Irudaya Rajan spoke recently to Emirates Business about the demand for employees in spite of the job losses due to the global economic crisis. Just in Saudi Arabi alone, there was an increase in workers this year by at least sixty thousand. S Irudaya Rajan said, “Except for a 35 per cent fall in numbers from India, the flows in 2009 are comparable to those in 2008. This is especially true in the case of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.”
Research teams from the Center for Development Studies paid a visit to six different GCC countries as well as Malaysia in order to conduct interviews of the employers and laborers of the various sectors. Asian Development Bank, the overseas ministry for Indian affairs, the Kerala state Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs and the central government funded the research study.
According to the study, more than two hundred sixty thousand people have lost their jobs in the Middle East because of the global economic crisis. S Irudaya Rajan said, “It was very difficult to verify the accuracy of numbers…”
The total amount of remittances by the 14 million plus expat workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council was well over $30 billion for the past year. The global economic recession has caused mass job redundancies and fueled a brand new debate about the best ways to handle the situation in both the public and private sectors.
The Middle East has quickly become one of the fastest growing regions for the remittance and money transfer industry because of the vast development projects that require and increasing numbers of expat workers. In fact, while the remittance industry’s global growth rate stood at only eight percent last year, in the GCC region the remittance industry’s global growth rate is more than 15 percent each year.