New immigration data has confirmed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has surpassed Saudi Arabia, becoming the most popular destination for Indian immigrants travelling to the Gulf in search of employment.
The figures represent the total India to Gulf migration for January to June of this year, showing that the UAE has come out on top by a considerable margin. Of the total number of people leaving India during this period, over 40 per cent were cleared for immigration into the UAE as compared to just 18 per cent for Saudi Arabia.
The third most popular destination according to this data is now Oman, with 16.5 per cent of the total Gulf migration. This development has pushed Kuwait, who occupied the third position in 2016, down the leader board. A reversal has also occurred in the position of the top two origin states for migration from India, with Bihar edging ahead of Uttar Pradesh for the first time in many years.
Experts have attributed this change in ranking to a sudden and substantial drop in migration from Uttar Pradesh to Saudi Arabia in the first six months of 2017. From January to June 2017, just over 3 per cent of people migrating to Saudi Arabia came from Uttar Pradesh. This figure is dramatically lower than that for 2016, which stood at 36 per cent.
An overall look at the statistic shows a decline in total migration to the Gulf region, though even if this trend continues it is not expected to negatively impact the UAE economy in the short-term, thanks largely to the current influx of Indian migrants.
This considerable shift in movement patterns which positions the UAE as a preferred destination among job-seeking Indians could be the fruits of the on-going collaboration between the Republic of India and the UAE, which aims to promote economic and political interests between the two regions.
The success of this partnership has been further evidenced by the UAEs recent decision to relax visa application rules, allowing more Indian passport holders to obtain a visa on arrival. The first stage of this alteration was initiated in early 2017 when UAE officials made some changes to their immigration policies, enabling Indian passport holders who also held a US visa or green card to be awarded an UAE visa. This rule has now been extended to include all Indians who hold current UK or European Union residence visas.
These developments are expected to boost tourism and prove ultimately beneficial to the UAE’s economy, as increasing number of people travel through the UAE on journeys to Europe and the US from India. No change has been made to the rules concerning diplomatic persons and government officials, who will still be awarded a visa on entry at no cost.