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Indian origin population in UAE

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Don’t know Arabic or fluent English? You’ll still get by in the UAE if you know Hindi or Malayalam — a line often repeated in jest here. But mind you, there’s a whole lot of truth in that. 2.6 million Indian origin population in UAE have made their homes, the largest expat community constituting 30 percent of the total population.

Little wonder that an overwhelming 48,000 Indians signed up to see and hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at the Dubai Cricket Stadium despite the scorching heat. The excitement is palpable with Modi being the first Indian prime minister to visit this Gulf nation in 34 years.

Modi’s visit primarily seeks to enhance cooperation in energy and trade and reach out to investors. The India-UAE trade totals around $60 billion. This makes the UAE India’s third largest trading partner for 2013-14 after China and the US.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hand with United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum during his visit in Dubai August 17, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hand with United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum during his visit in Dubai August 17, 2015

India is the top receiver of remittances from its worldwide diaspora at $70.4 billion in 2014. Indians living and working in the UAE are the biggest source of remittances to India, contributing $12.6 billion, according to the World Bank. In comparison, about $11.2 billion of remittances for India originated in the US, which has a larger Indian origin population with much higher incomes.

And the contribution of Indians to the UAE growth story too has been immense, whether it is the hard work of thousands of unskilled laborers, those in the service sector or the contribution of Indian businessmen and professionals in fields like health, retail, education or real estate.

Indians emerged as the leading professional migrants to the UAE in 2014, representing 28 percent, according to a global study by professional networking site LinkedIn.

The demographics are interesting. According to the Indian embassy, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the principal requirement was for blue-collar workers, 85-90 percent of them were Indians. In the 1990s, the profile of the community changed. Today, 15-20 percent of Indians are professionally qualified personnel.

Known as the playground of the rich, the UAE is home to six Indians named in the Forbes’ 2015 Billionaires List: businessmen Mickey Jagtiani, M.A. Yusuff Ali, real estate tycoon Ravi Pillai, educationist Sunny Varkey, healthcare and foreign exchange czar B.R. Shetty and pioneering healthcare tycoon Azad Moopen.

The UAE has seen a rapid increase in Indian schools and colleges. Earlier, NRIs in the UAE had no choice but to send their children back to India or abroad elsewhere for higher education. It’s a different story now with the presence of well known institutes offering graduate and post-graduate courses at campuses in the Dubai International Academic City.

What makes the Indian in the UAE unique from those settled elsewhere in the world is they know they have to go back to India eventually as expats don’t get citizenship or permanent residency. So they are Indian at heart and Indian by passport!

At the same time, Indians are top investors in UAE’s real estate now. According to a Dubai Land Department report, foreign investment in Dubai’s realty market by Indians amounted to AED 18.12 billion ($5 billion) last year.

A group of Malayalis in UAE
A group of Malayalis in UAE

Malayalis form nearly 40 percent of the 2.6 million Indians in the UAE, making Kerala the biggest benefactor of the remittances. The country is also home to diverse Indian communities.

Sindhis and Gujaratis dominate most family-run businesses. There are also sizeable number of Punjabis, Tamils and Goans.

Where Indians go, they are bound to take their food along. The bustling locality of Karama in the heart of Dubai, nicknamed “Little India,” is dotted with enticing eateries offering menus from nearly 15 Indian states, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Rajasthan.

For an average Indian, religion is an important part of life. And Dubai shines as a beacon of religious tolerance in the Gulf. In 1958, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum, father of Dubai’s current ruler, permitted a Hindu temple to be built on the first floor of a bylane in Bur Dubai.

The 50,000 Sikhs in the UAE got their own grand Gurdwara in 2012, thanks to land donated by Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The UAE also hosts several churches frequented by the Malayali Syrian Christians.

The most glamorous business is of course show business. The UAE is a huge source of box office revenue for Bollywood and the Malayalam film industry. Generations of Emiratis grew up watching Hindi movies as staple entertainment, idolizing Amitabh Bachchan and, later, Shah Rukh Khan.

the el dorado cinema in Abu Dhabi
the el dorado cinema in Abu Dhabi

Indian movie stars fly down to the UAE for film premieres a day before it releases even in India. Not to forget the routine store inaugurations and stage shows, one can say that the chances of running into an Indian film star are more in Dubai than in India!

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Most Terrible Water Crisis Ever In History Leaves Millions Of Indians Thirsty

6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water.

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A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017.
A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017. VOA

Weak infrastructure and a national shortage have made water costly all over India, but Sushila Devi paid a higher price than most. It took the deaths of her husband and son to force authorities to supply it to the slum she calls home.

“They died because of the water problem, nothing else,” said Devi, 40, as she recalled how a brawl over a water tanker carrying clean drinking water in March killed her two relatives and finally prompted the government to drill a tubewell.

“Now things are better. But earlier … the water used to be rusty, we could not even wash our hands or feet with that kind of water,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Delhi.

India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”, threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.

From the northern Himalayas to the sandy, palm-fringed beaches in the south, 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage, with close to 200,000 dying each year from polluted water.

Residents like Devi queue daily with pipes, jerry cans and buckets in hand for water from tankers – a common lifeline for those without a safe, reliable municipal supply – often involving elbowing, pushing and punching.

On the rare occasions water does flow from taps, it is often dirty, leading to disease, infection, disability and even death, experts say.

“The water was like poison,” said Devi, who still relies on the tanker for drinking water, outside her one-room shanty in the chronically water-stressed Wazirpur area of the capital Delhi.

“It is better now, but still it is not completely drinkable. It is alright for bathing and washing the dishes.”

Water pollution is a major challenge, the report said, with nearly 70 percent of India’s water contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.

Yet only one-third of its wastewater is currently treated, meaning raw sewage flows into rivers, lakes and ponds – and eventually gets into the groundwater.

“Our surface water is contaminated, our groundwater is contaminated. See, everywhere water is being contaminated because we are not managing our solid waste properly,” said the report’s author Avinash Mishra.
Loss of livelihood

Meanwhile, unchecked extraction by farmers and wealthy residents has caused groundwater levels to plunge to record lows, says the report.

It predicts that 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

The head of WaterAid India VK Madhavan said the country’s groundwater was now heavily contaminated.

“We are grappling with issues, with areas that have arsenic contamination, fluoride contamination, with salinity, with nitrates,” he said, listing chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

Arsenic and fluoride occur naturally in the groundwater, but become more concentrated as the water becomes scarcer, while nitrates come from fertilisers, pesticides and other industrial waste that has seeped into the supply.

The level of chemicals in the water was so high, he said, that bacterial contamination – the source of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – “is in the second order of problems”.

“Poor quality of water – that is loss of livelihood. You fall ill because you don’t have access to safe drinking water, because your water is contaminated.”

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.
Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater. pixabay

“The burden of not having access to safe drinking water, that burden is greatest on the poor and the price is paid by them.”

Frothy lakes and rivers

Crippling water problems could shave 6 percent off India’s gross domestic product, according to the report by the government think-tank, Niti Aayog.

“This 6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water. Our industry, our food security, everything will be at stake,” said Mishra.

“It is a finite resource. It is not infinite. One day it can (become) extinct,” he said, warning that by 2030 India’s water supply will be half of the demand.

To tackle this crisis, which is predicted to get worse, the government has urged states – responsible for supplying clean water to residents – to prioritise treating waste water to bridge the supply and demand gap and to save lives.

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.

Every year, Bengaluru and New Delhi make global headlines as their heavily polluted water bodies emit clouds of white toxic froth due to a mix of industrial effluents and domestic garbage dumped into them.

In Bengaluru – once known as the “city of lakes” and now doomed to go dry – the Bellandur Lake bursts into flames often, sending plumes of black smoke into sky.

The Yamuna river that flows through New Delhi can be seen covered under a thick, detergent-like foam on some days.

On other days, faeces, chemicals and ashes from human cremations float on top, forcing passers-by to cover their mouths and noses against the stench.

That does not stop 10-year-old Gauri, who lives in a nearby slum, from jumping in every day.

With no access to water, it is the only way to cool herself down during India’s scorching summers, when temperatures soar to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

“There usually is not enough water for us to take a shower, so we come here,” said Gauri, who only gave her first name, as she and her brother splashed around in the filthy river.

Also read: India’s bulging water crisis: Is it too late for us to do something?

“It makes us itchy and sick, but only for some time. We are happy to have this, everyone can use it.” (VOA)