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Indian Diaspora in the Gulf States Region

Indian Diaspora in the Gulf States Region
Excerpts from the Report of High Level committee submitted to Govt of India


  • Entire gull region is sparsely populated, Saudi Arabia and Iraq being the only Gulf countries with relatively large population of almost 22 and 23 million, respectively. As for the others, the corresponding figures range from barely half a million to about 2.5.
  • Foreign nationals are not permitted to own any business or immovable property in the Gulf Countries. They are required to make a local citizen or entity a majority even if sleeping partner in their enterprises.
  • The Indian Diaspora in the Gulf consists entirely of "non-resident indian citizens" (Or NRIs). A conservative estimate of their number in the Gulf region, based on figures supplied by the Ministry of Labour and by Indian Missions in that area would be at least 3 million. Their numbers make impressive reading even in terms of their percentage of total population in the countries where they reside: Country- Indian Migrants population (1999)- percentage of national population Bahrain - 150,000 (20%) ; Kuwait - 200,000 (13%); Libya - 20,000 Oman - 450,000 (15%); Qatar - 100,000 (24%); Saudi Arabia - 1,200,000 (7%) UAE - 750,000 (32%); Others - 130,000
  • Semiskilled unskilled workers still account for about 70% of the Indian migrants; while white-collar workers are in the neighbourhood of 20% and professionals (doctors, engineers, architects, bankers and charted acccountants) have a 10% share of the total.
  • Interactions and contacts of Indian migrants with the local people are limited and mostly of a formal and impersonal nature. They are naturally drawn to their compatriots of a similar social status or background. A large number of Indian associations are thus to be found throughout the region, which are based on commonalities such as place of origin, religion, language or profession. As many as a hundred such associations engaged i cultural and recreational activities exist in Kuwait and UAE, while relatively smaller numbers exist in Saudi Arabia and Oman. The Indian Art Circle in Kuwait has even constructed an auditorium with a seating capacit of 1200 persons, in which regular cultural programmes and seminars are organized, and sometimes also performances by invited Indian artists.
  • The professional Indians and some of their white-collar workers are the only ones who qualify to have their families with them due to the high basic income norms set by the Gulf Governments. To enjoy such a privilege in the UAE, for instance, the monthly earnings of an NRI must be no less than 4000 Dirhams (ca. Rs. 48000), or Dirhams 3000 plus accommodation. In Kuwait, the qualifying minimum is even higher, namely, Kuwaiti Dinars 400 (Rs. 56000) per month.
  • The Indian migrants have taken the initiative of setting up a large number of schools throughout the region which follow the Indian curriculam and thus meet the educational needs of their children. There are no less than 38 such schools in UAE, 15 in Oman, 9 in Kuwait and 7 in Saudi Arabia which are run and managed by Indian professionals.
  • The living and working condition of the unskilled and semi-skilled Indian workers in the Gulf leaves much to be desired. A majority of these NRIs are young males. More than half their numbers have invariably gone from Kerala, while the remaining persons have mostly been from Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. Over 60% of them have had little formal education. On arrival in their country of destination in the Gulf, they are usually fed and housed in barrack-like tenements and engaged as labour on construction projects. Most of them are unmarried.
  • Out of a total of 294,000 Indian residents in Kuwait, about 113,000 of them are domestic servants, and, of them, about 49,000 are housemaids. There have been cases of Indian women who were recruited as cooks or housemaids and were driven to desperation because of the ill treatment and molestation that they were subjected to. In view of the serious problems faced by housemaids, the Govt. of India had suspended their emigration to Kuwait in June 1999.

Excerpts from OverseasIndian.in
(official ezine of Min. of Overseas Indians, Govt of India)

  • Dubai, Aug 27:, 2006 The total number of Indian workers in the United Arab Emirates' private sector is currently between 1.2 million and 1.3 million, according to the latest figures. Indian workers in the country represent some 50 percent of the labour force in the private sector, according to a report.
  • Dubai, Aug 11, 2006: Over four million Indian workers in the Gulf region remit nearly $5 billion a year, says a report. Foreign workers, mainly from India and Pakistan, send home nearly nine percent of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member nations' gross domestic product (GDP) each year. The largest transfers originate from Saudi Arabia, which accounts for 63 percent of all remittances, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 15 percent, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News.
  • Chennai, Aug 01, 2006: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Monday announced a compensation of Rs.200,000 to each of the families of the 16 Indian workers killed Sunday in a fire accident in Bahrain.
  • Dubai, July 28, 2006 The Indian government will soon tighten immigration laws for unskilled labourers travelling abroad for work.
  • New Delhi, July 28 2006 The number of Indians in the Gulf is estimated to be about four million.In Kuwait, 48 percent of the Indians were working in the unorganised sector (43 percent in Saudi Arabia). The minister also said that according to information received from Indian missions in the Gulf, there were 1,116 Indian prisoners in Saudi Arabia, 825 in the United Arab Emirates, 111 in Kuwait, 86 in Bahrain and 32 in Qatar.

Tamilnadu University to establish extension centre in Gulf region
Staff Reporter THE HINDU

TIRUNELVELI : The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, which is already successfully running its extension learning centre at Ajumen in the Middle East, has now decided to establish its extension centres at Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai also to cater to the needs of students in the region, where an estimated strength of over one million Indian population lives.

Speaking to reporters here, the Vice-Chancellor, Cynthia Pandian, who visited the `Indian Education Exhibition 2006' held at Dubai recently to explore the possibilities of strengthening the university's presence in the Gulf region, said that over 15 Indian universities had participated in the event, which drew a huge crowd of Indian and Arab visitors, "who are desperately looking for quality education in the field of information technology, management studies and commerce at an affordable cost".

The Vice-Chancellor also visited the educational institutions run by the United Arab Emirates Governments and private agencies such as Inter-Nation University Centre, Abu Dhabi University, and had discussions with the heads of the institutions and the faculty on the nature of education, the impact, the quality of the syllabi and curriculum they prescribe, the quality of the faculty members they recruit etc.

"As the fee structure prescribed for the courses being offered by the universities of other countries in the `Global Knowledge Village' at Dubai is so high, they prefer Indian universities, which offer high-quality education at low cost. And that is why we've decided to establish our Extension Learning Centre in the Gulf region through the recently established MSU Centre for International Education. We'll offer courses in information technology, biotechnology, microbiology and bioinformatics, computer application etc," Dr. Cynthia said.

Gulf students, who join the science stream, will have to come to the MSU and stay here for a month or so for the practical examinations.Apart from the Gulf region, the VC commenced the groundwork on establishing our extension learning centres at Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Moreover, she is also holding talks with the Sydney University, Australia for collaboration between the Departments of Information Technology and Geo-Technology of both universities.
The Registrar, P. Chellathurai, the Director, Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Sciences, N. Sukumaran, who accompanied the VC during her Gulf visit, were present. -----
Bharathidasan University Distance Learning Center in Dubai
New Delhi/Dubai, July 26, 2006:
Tamil Nadu's Tiruchirapalli-based Bharathidasan University has denied closing its distance-learning centre in Dubai and said exams that have been delayed will be held next month. A university source told IANS that the centre, located at Dubai Knowledge Village, had faced some problems that have now been solved. The source, however, did not specify the problems. Around 150 students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), many of them non-resident Indians (NRIs), were in a quandary after news appeared that the university has abruptly closed down its Dubai centre. The centre was run by a Chennai-based firm, Sriram Cybertech Systems (SCS). Knowledge Village officials had also confirmed that the centre was no longer on its premises.

Gulf curbs hit distance education enrolment in Tamilnadu Universities
By Staff Reporter The Hindu

MADURAI, AUG. 12, 2004.
The restrictions imposed by Gulf countries on university admissions, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have hit distance education enrolment in Indian universities bringing down the number of non-resident Indian (NRI) admissions and revenue.

One of the universities that suffered heavily is the distance education major, Madurai Kamaraj University, which lost over Rs. 50 lakhs in revenue this academic year owing to regulations imposed by the Gulf countries on foreign universities.

The Vice-Chancellor, P.K. Ponnuswamy, told The Hindu today the decline in NRI admissions was felt acutely by the varsity after restrictions were imposed through the NRI Study Centres in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. After the restrictions, which came into effect last year, the number of enrolments came down substantially and the revenue loss was huge as payments were in dollar terms.

Good demand

Though there was good demand from students in the Gulf for the university's courses, the number admissions came down from 756 in the academic year 2003-04 to 190 in the calendar year 2004. However, this was expected to improve shortly with the Indian universities deciding to comply with the conditions.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, all leading universities that were tapping students from the Gulf felt the impact of the curbs on admissions.

He said the foreign component for the university was high with around 1,700 students on the distance education enrolment and the demand was good for business management and science courses. However, things would improve from this year with the varsity taking up the matter with the Gulf authorities, he said.

Prof. Ponnuswamy said the overall enrolment figure declined this year. The university lost about 3,000 candidates over last year's owing to the stopping of direct admissions to postgraduate courses through the open university system. It was a common problem faced by all universities.

For information on Indian educational institutions of UAE see

Anna University to set up off-shore campuses in the Gulf, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore
source: The Hindu

Anna University has sought the permission of the Chancellor to set up offshore campuses in certain countries. Once the legislation is suitably amended to provide for this, the institution would approach the University Grants Commission in this regard, said D. Viswanathan, Vice-Chancellor, Anna University.

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