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The Economic Reality Of Being A Gulfie


wealthymattersMany resident Indians think that by going to the Gulf, a person is probably set for life and will soon be rolling in money.This assumption is made often on the basis of the lavish houses and weddings that Gulfies go for.The truth is often very different.Sure there are well to do Indian-origin businessmen in the Gulf,and undoubtedly Indians who draw excellent salaries on par with the rest of the world,but for most Gulfies,the reality is something else……

Save, save and save. That’s the sacred mantra of most middle class Gulfies. Many sacrifice a lot to save. Some live without their families for years. Only some 10%  live with their families,often in dingy apartments. The dream is to return to India to live in palatial homes.Payday is their happiest day. After drawing salaries, they rush to send money to India. Only cash for basic necessities, like food, is left behind in their wallets. The reasons for their obsession with saving are simple. While most Indians in the West do not come back, Gulf Indians want to return home and enjoy a higher standard of living and relax. Buying luxurious homes, sending their children to elite educational institutions in India or even in the West, finishing family commitments such as education and marriage of siblings,paying off loan sharks and moneylenders,amassing the massive dowries for daughters that have become a fad in Kerala and having enough money in the bank to sustain them for a long time takes precedence over everything else.Furthermore,for many,living expenses in the UAE are so high that they can’t meet all the domestic expenses in India,out of their savings.So they opt for loans whose servicing severely cuts into their disposable income.

Of the lakhs of Indians employed in the Gulf ,a whopping 95 per cent do not save anything and return empty handed to India even after working for a decade. Only five per cent of the Indian labour force including the white collared bring enough money to live happily back home.The majority of them fail to save sufficient money due to low wages and high expenditure on medical treatment. Contrary to the popular belief that Indian workers earn high salaries in the Gulf, a minuscule 15 per cent of NRIs get salaries upward of 4500 Dirhams. As many as 34 per cent of employees do not save at all while only two per cent of NRI families back home save something for future. The salary is as low as 350 Dirhams which works out to just 100 US dollars or Rs 4,500 a month.The regular remittance to families in India is spent on domestic needs, acquiring a house or on marriage of sisters/daughters. And when they return home, there’s hardly anything left. So they once again leave India for the Gulf for re-employment.

However,sometimes loans help the salaried middle class amass wealth.For example, in the Nineties when Saudi banks, following the Islamic system, charged just three of four per cent on loans,many Gulfies sought massive loans and transferred the money home where interests on NRE fixed deposits had touched 15 per cent and made money off the arbitrage.

 

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About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

6 Responses to The Economic Reality Of Being A Gulfie

  1. ajit8d says:

    sure and thanks

    • you’re welcome

  2. ajit8d says:

    I am a surgeon based in abu dhabi working for 4 yrs and working in a hospital catering mostly to labourers.In abu dhabi,health insurance is mandatory,to be paid by employer and no resident visa is issued without one.dubai is in process of making it mandatory.I do agree with most of the things in the article,but it does convey a wrong message.There is difference in uae,saudi arabia and kuwait.Overall ,Uae is a much better place and most labourers are able to send enough money to their families.Also in uae ,there is WPS system for protection of workers and salary is credited directly to their bank accounts.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience sir!
      Why not write an article on the prospects for doctors in the Gulf?I’ll be happy to promote it.

      • ajit8d says:

        thanks keerthika..Actually among the Gulf countries ,Uae has better prospects for doctors without any compromise on current living and cultural standards apart from ramadan month when there are restrictions to eating outside during the day time.bahrain and qatar come second and third though with some restrictions.i would not even consider saudi arabia and kuwait as they are lot of restrictions,not great for families and females have to compulsorily wear a burqa every time.So coming to UAE,its almost like living in any metropolis of india but with excellant infrastructure,municipality,governence and safety.Abu dhabi has the health authority of abu dhabi (HAAD) which is the regulatory body only for it,dubai(DHA) has its own while the rest of the states have the ministry of health(MOH) covering sharjah,fujairah,ras al khaimah and umm al quain.An exam is required to acquire license for all three and more information about licensing is available at their websites..Recently ,it was announced that doctors in abu dhabi and dubai can practise in either of them by transferring the license and there is no need to give any additional exam.Indian degrees usually are given only specialist status while consultant status is for those with western qualifications and only after 3 yrs of experience post MD/MS can anyone apply for license and exam.license can be either aquired individually or through the sponsoring hospital or medical center once the applicant gets s job offer,the second option is the easiest .In terms of salary ,they have increased substantially in last 3-4 yrs due to compulsory insurance in abu dhabi and shortly in dubai and a specialist can get anywhere from 30000 to 50000 dirhams tax free.per month.There is no tax whatsoever in UAE.

      • Ajit,thanks for laying out the prospects of doctors in the Gulf so succinctly.Now I’m hoping people from other backgrounds will also find this post and add their own insights,so that we soon have a summary of what works and what doesn’t. Please ask as many people as you can to contribute to building this resource.

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