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    Expatriate Indians in UAE not hit by global meltdown

    Abu Dhabi (IANS): Unlike Indian professionals in the US and Europe who are facing uncertain times because of the global financial crisis, expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) do not appear to be in a similar predicament as the meltdown has had little impact on the region, Indian diplomats here said.

    "We have not received a single complaint about (Indians) not being paid," India's Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahmad said at a press conference here Thursday.

    "We have not had any feedback of a negative character so far. The system seems to be holding on reasonably well," he said.

    There are 1.5 million expatriate Indians in the UAE, the largest expatriate community here, and a large number of them work as contracted labourers in the booming construction industry, now hit by the global financial crisis.

    "Do recall here that, other than people who are in the construction sector, we have a large body of people on the maintenance front," the ambassador said.

    "Maintenance will continue regardless of the state of the economy. We also have a large number of people in the services sector and a large number of professionally qualified people.

    "Overall, there is no indication so far that there has been any adverse effect on the Indian community," Ahmad said.

    He said his mission has been analysing the sector very closely.

    "The feedback that we have received from various sources is that the liquidity situation here is far better than most other countries in the world and they (the UAE authorities) are very confident of seeing the situation through," Ahmad said.

    Venu Rajamony, Indian Consul General in Dubai, the heart of the Gulf financial sector, also said his mission has not received any such complaint.

    "As of now we do not have any report about any major job losses because of the financial crisis," he said.

    Rajamony said he has been told by top executives in Dubai's construction sector that they were still looking for labourers for projects in the pipeline.

    "They said that so far the situation for visas has been so tight that as of now they are still looking for more labour for projects that are just in the pipeline.

    "But, at the same time, there have been reports that banks have stopped lending money to expatriate workers of big real estate companies. I understand that it is the marketing staff that has been affected. We do not have any figure of how many Indians are there in the sales and marketing staff," Rajamony said, adding that his mission was monitoring the situation.

    "Our primary concern is the construction sector where we have workers in large numbers. And there we have not received any report as of now of work getting stopped and people going back (to India)," he said.

    Indians workers comprise 42.5 percent of the total labour force in the UAE and 65 percent of them are in the blue-collar category.

    Rajamony said even if workers in the UAE lose their jobs they could still get jobs in the construction sector back home as the Indian economy was expected to be among the first to come out of the financial crisis.

    "The general assumption is that Indian economy can also sustain any return of people because, within India, the construction sector and the amount of money we are committing to develop our own infrastructure, all of it requires skilled labour. And so if people come back, they can still find jobs within India."

    The envoys' comments assume significance given that the remittances made by the vast expatriate Indian community here contribute substantially to the Indian community.

    According to a World Bank report this year, India is the highest receiver of remittances from abroad.

    Around 5.7 million Indians from across the world sent $27 billion as remittances in 2007 and the Gulf accounted for a large chunk of it.


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