Surging Gulf inflation burns up foreign workers’ earnings

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

DUBAI, April 9, 2008 (AFP) – Foreign workers making up the bulk of the labour force in the robust Gulf economies are feeling the crunch of rocketing prices and weak currencies with some even asking why stay at all. “A segment of workers is considering leaving, particularly those from countries that are seeing strong economic growth,” said Yasser Hatami, managing director of regional recruitment agency GulfTalent, referring to Indian professionals who are getting better deals at home.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have traditionally been a major destination for migrant workers from neighbouring South Asian and Arab countries, while Westerners are attracted by tax breaks and the lifestyle.

Despite impressive economic growth fed by an oil windfall, expatriates in GCC nations face surging inflation, while the value of their remittances has dropped as most GCC currencies are pegged to the tumbling dollar.

“It is becoming much harder to persuade professionals — bankers and engineers, for example — in India to leave,” Hatami told AFP, adding that GCC-based firms now look for fresh graduates who are more willing to come.

Laveen Melwani is an Indian banker who moved to Dubai after gradua