24/07/2017 2:00 PM IST | Updated 24/07/2017 2:01 PM IST

As Gulf Economies Falter, Jobs For Indian Migrants Dry Up

The number of Indians migrating to the GCC region has dropped sharply

Faisal Nasser / Reuters

The number of Indian workers emigrating to Gulf countries has declined sharply, the Union government has said. The government attributes the decline to an economic slowdown in these countries triggered by weak oil prices.

In response to a question by Rajya Sabha MP Javed Ali, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh submitted last week that the number of Indian workers emigrating annually to the six Gulf countries--Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE--had declined from 7.76 lakh in 2014 to 7.59 lakh in 2015, and then crashed to just 5.07 lakh in 2016. As a result, remittances from Indians working all over the world fell from US$ 69.82 billion in 2014-15 to US$ 65.59 billion in 2015-16. "There has been a decline in the number of Indian workers emigrating to the gulf countries for employment due to economic slowdown in GCC countries triggered by the weak oil prices, which has resulted in lack of demand for workers," Singh said in his reply.

As of the middle of 2015, Indians made up one-third of the migrants to these six countries 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'. In the UAE, for instance, Indians make up 43% of all migrants and 38% of the total population. While Kerala does contribute large numbers to the Gulf countries, Uttar Pradesh sends the most migrants to the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia, which saw the second sharpest drop after Qatar in 2016, has been following what the Indian government calls a 'Saudiisation' policy, which is aimed at employing more Saudi nationals rather than foreigners, according to The Times of India. One of these measures, the "dependant tax", has forced many Indian migrants to send their families home.