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Indians in UAE: The largest expat community

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Image source: newindianexpress.com

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UAE: 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. The UAE is home to 2.6 million Indian expats, 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.

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.

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 a 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.

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!

(The article was first published in littleindia.com)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)