UAE, Saudi Arabia lead global remittance flows

Much-needed money transfers make their way to hundreds of countries

By Hatem Sleiman

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A remittance centre in Dubai. — File photo
A remittance centre in Dubai. — File photo

Published: Sun 16 Jun 2024, 4:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Jun 2024, 10:46 PM

This weekend we celebrate ‘International Day of Family Remittances’, which this year, coincides with Eid Al-Adha festivities. Remittances are money transfers sent by workers abroad to their loved ones and communities in their home country. They serve as a lifeline for countless families.

Combining Eid celebrations with International Day of Family Remittances emphasises togetherness. During celebratory seasons, families eagerly await the financial influx not just for its monetary value - but for the intangible joy and sense of abundance it brings. So much so, that occasions such as Eid Al-Adha can typically result in an increase of more than 20 per cent in money transfer transactions in the Middle East, compared to the preceding month. It is in moments like these, the true power and value of remittances are amplified globally.


The United Nations estimates that there are approximately 281 million migrants in the world today. I believe that whether you are a citizen or a resident, the principle of travelling for greater opportunities is a common thread we all share our DNA. The Middle East leads by example. Amidst the bustling cities and dynamic landscapes of this region, there lie vast communities of global citizens whose dedication means they can better support their own aspirations as well as families in-country and back home. They form the backbone of country and global economies.

Hatem Sleiman, Regional Vice President, Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan at Western Union
Hatem Sleiman, Regional Vice President, Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan at Western Union

We see this in numbers. World Bank figures demonstrate the region as a key driver of remittances. Billions are sent annually. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the top three sending countries globally. In 2022 alone, the two countries collectively sent approximately $79 billion in remittances. Qatar and Kuwait are also not too far behind.


These much-needed money transfers make their way to hundreds of countries. They reflect the dynamism of the Middle East workforce, home to several different nationalities. They also reflect the strength of the region’s governments, who with their visionary approach, have created such hard-to-miss opportunities.

On this International Day of Family Remittances and Eid Al-Adha, I am reminded of my own journey. I too ventured from my home in Lebanon in search of opportunities. The United Arab Emirates has been my adopted home for over two decades. Every day I am humbled by what can be achieved in this region and country. Alongside building my life here, I also send remittances home to support my extended family. Today, my children are grown up, and now pursuing their own opportunities. There are many generations who have embarked on similar journeys. As you consider your next move and opportunity to support your loved ones, how will remittances help you create your legacy?

Hatem Sleiman, Regional Vice President, Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan at Western Union



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