The meltdown in crude oil continues to takes its toll not just on the Middle East economies but also on the immigration of Indian workers to the Gulf. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of Indians heading to the Gulf fell 34% to 5.07 lakh even as oil prices, after hitting a high of $110.48 in mid-2014 plummeted back to $48 levels. Low prices have taken a toll on the six countries, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Besides declining oil prices, the ongoing disruptions by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have left emigrating Indians wary of the Gulf too. It does not help much either that Saudi Arabia has begun imposing tax on non-national residents of the country to support employment for its own people. According to the UN, more than 35 lakh Indians live in the UAE, making up 30% of the 15.6 million (1.56 crore) Indian-born people residing outside the country. Not surprising that overall remittances from Indians living abroad have fallen 9% to $62.7 billion in 2016. According to Crisil, UAE is the biggest source of GCC remittances into India, accounting for 38.7% of the total flows, followed by Saudi Arabia with a 28% share. Given the dearth of jobs back home, the weakening allure of the Gulf could well come to haunt the Indian economy in the days to come.
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