According to reports, the number of Indians living illegally in the UAE has fallen dramatically in the last seven months.
August 3, 2009 2:00 by Aarti Nagraj
It has now become much tougher to employ an Indian living illegally in the UAE. According to a report in The Times of India newspaper, more than six thousand illegal Indian residents have used emergency certificates to leave the UAE in the last seven months, as compared to 1,645 people in 2008. Emergency certificates are one-way travel documents issued to Indian nationals overseas who do not have valid documents such as passports.
According to the report, most of them worked in sectors that were hit hard by the economic slowdown, including the construction industry. Of those who have left, emigrants from the Tamil Nadu state of India form the highest proportion. In all, 2,525 Indians from this region have exited Dubai in 2009 – up from 812 in 2008.
The UAE ‘s population has been hit hard by the financial crisis; real estate companies in Dubai have lain off hundreds of workers since the start of the slowdown. In March this year, investment bank EFG-Hermes predicted that Dubai’s population is likely to decline by as much as 17 percent this year, from 1.79 million in 2008 to 1.49 million.
However, in April UAE Labor Minister Saqr Ghobash rubbished reports of a mass exodus from the country, denying that the Emirates’ population was decreasing due to the financial crisis.
“Where are the statistics these reports are based upon? I can challenge these estimates, there is no way they are valid,” he said, adding that workers were merely being sent home for holidays.
Ghobash said the ministry issued 662,000 work permits in the period between October 2008 and March 2009, while only 405,000 permits had been cancelled. These figures “show an increase … not a decrease” in the number of expatriate workers, he said.
But the reports of people moving away from the country continue. A recent survey by online recruitment agency GulfTalent.com found that the number of UAE residents seeking jobs elsewhere in the GCC rose from 16 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2009.
According to a poll by Kipp in June, more than 24 percent of respondents said that they would move out of Dubai with their families after the end of the school year. Another 7 percent said they would be leaving this summer because they have been made redundant and are unable to find work in the city.