Indians in the United Arab Emirates

The problem and its background

Introduction

Indians form a large part of the population of the U.A.E. Some statistics suggest that Indians form over 40% of the total population of the U.A.E. An estimated 1 million Indians are supposedly staying in the U.A.E. at the present. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are said to house the most Indians in the U.A.E. Indians have been in contact with the U.A.E. since times unmemorable. Trade and commerce has always flown between India and the U.A.E.

In recent times there has been an increase in the flow of Indians to the U.A.E. due to increase in opportunities in the petroleum and the construction sectors. A sizeable number of Indians are also involved in entrepreneurship and management jobs in the U.A.E. The Transport industry however engages the largest number of Indians in the U.A.E. In general the relations between India and U.A.E. have been good, although recently there has been some friction between the relations of the two nations due to improper treatment of Indian labour force by the employers in the U.A.E. The major chunk of Indian population in U.A.E. comes from the state of Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa. The majority of Indians in the U.A.E. are residing on a work visa and are not permanent citizens there. Indians have a connect with the people of U.A.E. because both countries faced similar conditions under the rule of the British, under the British empire Indian rupee and Indian stamps were used in U.A.E. Indian merchants have always dealt gold with Dubai and nearby regions. The discovery of oil has been the main reason in the modern era for the involvement of Indians in U.A.E. The oil sector provides huge employment to Indians. Moreover the Oil produced in U.A.E. is also being purchased by the Indian government; this has really improved relations between the two countries. It is to be noted that due to some strict laws in the U.A.E. it is almost next to impossible for Indians to gain a permanent citizenship of the region. Indians survive on work visa. Non Muslim Indians are allowed to practice their religion but they are not allowed to be public about it.

Significance of Study

Since Indians constitute the largest number of migrants in the U.A.E. it is necessary to deeply study their presence in the U.A.E. We need to study what contribution the Indians are making to the economy of U.A.E. and what negative effects Indians may have on the economy of U.A.E.

Scope and Limitations

Foreigners constitute over 99% of the labour force in the U.A.E. Indians are a major portion of this 99%. Not only are Indians working in the U.A.E. as labours but they have successfully established many companies and they are working as successful entrepreneurs in the U.A.E. Indians are earning between US$ 200-500 on an average as labours on a monthly basis in the U.A.E. These figures are considerably low when compared to average national income of U.A.E. A major chunk of money being earned by Indian labour force in the U.A.E. is sent back to India to the families of the labour. Almost 60% of all money sent back to India is sent to the state of Kerala.

Definition of Terms

Indian Culture: Indian culture is signified by its diversity. It signifies the Statement University in diversity. India being a secular state contains many religions living in a common place. Indians origin of any religion is quite accustomed with way of living of different community people and is very adaptable to new societies.

Review of relation literature and studies

Due to the huge population of Indians in the U.A.E. and due to leniency of laws in the U.A.E. most middle class Indians are being able to follow and enjoy similar culture as it prevails back home in India. A huge social network and clubs and other community places have been established by the Indians for their benefit in the U.A.E. Moreover Indian schools have also been established in the U.A.E. for the benefit of children of the Indian workforce in the U.A.E. Dubai also has a temple and a Sikh gurudwara. (Gopinath)

Many Indian clubs have also been created for the entertainment of the Indians residing in the U.A.E. Indians is allowed to enjoy their festivals in proper manner in Dubai. There is no restriction on Indians when it comes to their following their Indian culture in the U.A.E. Indian restaurants are a hit in the U.A.E. there are many Indian restaurants present in the U.A.E. and Indian food is cheaply and readily available both for the Indians and for the people of U.A.E. Indian cinema and all other activities of bollywood are also very popular in the United Arab Emirates. There are many cinema halls which air the latest Indian films at all times. Moreover on a general basis the Indians do not face any religious discrimination in the U.A.E. People of U.A.E. respect all religions and in turn they expect everyone to respect their religion. Despite the fact that many Indian labour class people complain of poor salary, still they have a much better lifestyle in U.A.E. than in India. (Kuriakose)

There are much better services and facilities available to them in the U.A.E. than what they could ever expect to get in India. But due to U.A.E. being a Muslim state most Indians can never feel completely at home due to the hard inland laws that prevail there. Recent reports however narrate that the authorities are getting much lenient in the U.A.E. especially towards the Indian Hindu community that is working in their country. (kelkar)

Research Methodology

Questionnaire

  1. Do you think that the number of Indians in the last 5 years has increased in the U.A.E.?
  2. Has the government become more lenient towards the Indians working in the U.A.E.?
  3. If no, Why not?
  4. Do you believe that the Indians are contributing towards the development of U.A.E.?
  5. Should more Indians be allowed to come to the U.A.E. in search of jobs in the future?

Instruments used:

This questionnaire was our main document for researching on this topic.

Gathering of Data:

We interviewed 50 Indians in the U.A.E. and 50 people who were citizens of U.A.E. with the help of this interview and that is how we gathered our data.

Presentation, analysis and interpretation of data.

For the 1st question almost 100% people gave a positive reply.

For the 2nd question 75% people disagreed.

The 3rd question received almost similar remarks from people who had replied negatively for the 2nd question.

The 4th question received 80% positive response.

The 5th question got 60% positive response.

Positive and Negative aspect for Indians living in Dubai

Indians get to live in a much safer environment than what they get back in India. There is a sense of security in the Indians who are residing in the United Arab Emirates. The best infrastructure is available to Indians in the U.A.E. much better than what they can get in India, although such facilities come at a price but they quality of infrastructure makes them worth every penny one has to pay for them. Jobs are easily available and compared to India the pay is also better in terms of money. The working conditions in most cases are also good. U.A.E. in general is developing in all industries so everyone has a chance to enhance their skills and venture out in new projects. It is easy for Indian entrepreneurs to establish themselves in U.A.E. than in India.

Many Indians complaint of discrimination and racism in U.A.E. especially the labour class and strangely the workforce has accepted this condition as a part of life in the U.A.E.

In spite of the huge population of Indians in the U.A.E. they do not have a say in the running of the show by the government, there is hardly any way an Indian can express his/her political views in the U.A.E. Indians face huge problems when their visas are not renewed by the government of U.A.E. They are forced to quit their jobs and return back to India.

The local people are not always friendly towards the Indian population. Only white collar Indian employees have the ease to live with their families in U.A.E., labour class Indians are not allowed to bring in their families with them. Moreover Unskilled and semiskilled labourers mostly are living in very bad conditions and they are being paid inappropriate salaries in comparison to the effort that they put in. Life is much easier for the educated Indians though. They are the ones who are being really benefited by working in the U.A.E., but fact remains that such Indians are only a small fraction of the population of Indians residing in the U.A.E.

Recent Issues of Concern in the Indo-U.A.E. relations:

Recently there have been many issues of concern which have negatively affected the relation of India with U.A.E. The economic slowdown of Dubai has raised many eyes of concern for all the Indians working in the U.A.E. Even the Indian government has shown its concern over this topic. The Dubai meltdown will affect the relation of India and U.A.E. in more than one ways. India's exports to U.A.E. will be affected directly and foreign exchange that India earns from U.A.E. will be affected in an unimaginable manner. Indian states like Kerala will be the most affected by this. Indian banks in U.A.E. like bank of Baroda will also be affected by the meltdown. The construction companies have been the most affected by the meltdown, and it is the construction industry which employs the most Indians in the U.A.E. Recently also 17 Indian citizens in the U.A.E. have been given the death penalty which has soured the relations between the two countries. The Indians have been given the death sentence for murder of a Pakistani man on the issue of illicit alcohol business. (Kuriakose)

Finding, Conclusions and Recommendations

Summary of findings

India and U.A.E. have been in cordial relations since hundreds of years now. Both countries are benefitting from each other in one way or the other. India is supplying the labour force that U.A.E. requires for its development while U.A.E. in return is catering to India's foreign exchange demands. Due to difference in cultures although there have been some issues for the Indians who are residing in the U.A.E. Especially the Hindu community of Indians complaint of not being able to feel completely at home in the U.A.E. This is also true to some extent because U.A.E. is an Islamic country. But except for few rare cases of open racial abuse there never have been big problems for the Hindus in the U.A.E. Most number of Indians are residing in Dubai as of now, the transport and the construction companies are at present employing the most number of Indians in the U.A.E. Still at least 25% of the Indian population in U.A.E. are employed in white collar jobs, many Indians have successfully set-up their businesses in U.A.E. also.

Conclusion

Indian labours have been recently complaining of receiving low wages for the work they do in U.A.E. but as we all know there are always two sides to a coin, the working conditions that they get in U.A.E. are much better than they could ever get in India, other facilities like medical care, housing, quality of food are also much better in U.A.E. Indians are really getting to avail the benefit of modern infrastructure in U.A.E. Indians should also learn to respect the culture and the religion of the people of U.A.E. Indians need to be more grateful towards U.A.E. because it has given the much better employment opportunities than what they could ever get in India. The government of U.A.E. should be more lenient towards the Indian population especially because Indians are 40% of the country's population. Indians should be given more freedom when it comes to letting them follow their religion and culture. More temples should be built for the Indians. If possible the employers should be more lenient towards the Indian labourers and they should make a genuine effort to increase their wages.

Recommendation

People of United Arab Emirates should realise that Indians have a big contribution when it comes to development of their country, if they have the money to develop, Indians have the manpower to materialise the process of development. Indians have also given the United Arab Emirates some great engineers and managers. Indian entrepreneurs are also successfully contributing to the development of United Arab Emirates. Indians who have been working in the United Arab Emirates for long periods should be given citizenship in lieu of their contribution made to the society. (Kuriakose)

The agencies should be more lenient towards issuing work visas to the Indians, problems of Indians who are at present facing problems due to visa issues need to be looked into by the administration of United Arab Emirates.

To sum up the situation it will be beneficial for both countries if peace and harmony can be maintained between them and trade continues between the two. All problems being faced between the two countries are minor problems and they should be sorted out for the benefit of all.

References

  • Indians in the United Arab Emirates. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 13, 2010 from http://tamilelibrary.org/teli/gulf01.html
  • Indians in UAE. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 13, 2010 from http://indiansinuae.net/
  • Indian food and culture in Dubai. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 13, 2010 from http://international-cultural affairs.suite101.com/article.cfm/indian_food_and_culture_in_dubai

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