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A dry season for Bangladeshis in UAE

Published on Friday, 21 Jun 2013
More Bangladeshis are being forced to find jobs at home for lower pay.
Photo: AP
Major construction projects tempt Bangladeshis to the UAE.
Photo: Reuters

The number of Bangladeshis heading overseas to work has plummeted by nearly 46 per cent in the first five months of this year, as job opportunities have almost dried up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – one of the wealthiest Gulf states – according to a government official.

The official, from the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), said that 174,227 Bangladeshis found jobs abroad from January to May this year, down from 321,722 during the same period in 2012.

“Looking at just May this year, 34,370 people found jobs abroad, down 52.44 per cent compared with the same month a year ago,” said the official.

He added that in the first five months of 2013, more than two-thirds of Bangladeshi workers seeking overseas employment found jobs in just a few Middle Eastern countries, including Oman and Qatar.

According to the official, overseas employment for Bangladeshis has continued to slide since the middle of last year as the UAE, which in the last couple of years has provided about two-thirds of Bangladesh’s total overseas employment, has recently recruited just a negligible number of workers from the country.

The UAE reportedly stopped issuing almost all kinds of entry permits for Bangladeshi passport holders last year, citing Dhaka’s failure to resolve its security concerns over identification and fake documents.

The UAE, which as of May has provided jobs for 2.29 million Bangladeshi workers since 1976 – the second highest number after Saudi Arabia – has been a sustained labour market for the last couple of years despite the global economic recession. With job opportunities for Bangladesh’s millions of foreign job aspirants coming to a near halt in the country, however, Bangladesh has suffered a crucial blow.

“Only 4,095 people found jobs in the UAE from January to May this year, down from 145,660 during the same period in 2012,” said the official, quoting the latest BMET data.

Remittance-reliant Bangladesh witnessed a big boom in overseas employment up until June 2012, a boom that was mostly propelled by impressive employment growth in the UAE, the official said.

“Some 374,837 Bangladeshis in the January to June period of 2012 found overseas jobs – a rise of nearly 50 per cent over the same period the year before,” he said.

As UAE jobs dried up, the official said, overseas employment for Bangladeshis in the second half of 2012 fell by nearly 23 per cent to some 232,961.

Conversely, although overseas employment is falling, remittance is rising. Quoting provisional data, a Bangladesh Bank (BB) official said that “some 8.6 million expatriate Bangladeshis remitted home US$13.4 billion from July 2012 to May 2013, about 9 per cent higher than the same period a year ago.”

A new World Bank report says Bangladesh now needs to accelerate GDP growth to between 7.5 per cent and 8 per cent, and sustain 8 per cent remittance growth, to reach its goal of middle-income-country status by the next decade. Xinhua

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