UAE home to largest number of Indians abroad at 3.5 million

Dubai - India has the most migrants abroad at 18 million.


Issac John

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Indian national flag is displayed on Dubai's Burj Khalifa to mark the country's 74th Independence day last year. — File photo
Indian national flag is displayed on Dubai's Burj Khalifa to mark the country's 74th Independence day last year. — File photo

Published: Sun 17 Jan 2021, 5:54 PM

Last updated: Sun 17 Jan 2021, 6:00 PM

The UAE is home to the most number of non-resident Indians (NRIs), which according to the United Nations, is the largest in the world. The Indian diaspora is one of the most “vibrant and dynamic”, with 18 million people across the planet.

The UAE hosts 3.5 million NRIs, followed by the US (2.7 million) and Saudi Arabia (2.5 million), the UN said.

“India has the largest transnational population in the world. It has the most migrants abroad — 18 million, which is a significant number ... Another feature which is very interesting about the Indian migrant population is that they’re really distributed all over the globe,” Clare Menozzi, population affairs officer in the Population Division at UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said.

While some transnational populations are really clustered in one country or region, the Indian diaspora is present in all continents and regions — from the Gulf to Northern America to Australia and the UK. “It’s a very vibrant” and dynamic diaspora in the world, Menozzi said.

The report, ‘International Migration 2020 Highlights’, by the Population Division of UN DESA, released on Friday, said other countries with a large diaspora included Mexico and Russia (11 million each), China (10 million) and Syria (8 million).

Other countries hosting large numbers of migrants from India included Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and the UK.

Remittances amid Covid

Quoting the World Bank, the report said the Covid-19 pandemic may reduce the volume of remittances sent to low-and middle-income countries from $548 billion in 2019 to $470 billion in 2021 — a decline of 14 per cent.

Menozzi said India is the main recipient of remittances worldwide and in 2019 received $83 billion from its diaspora. The World Bank projects that in 2020, the amount will decline by around 9 per cent to about $76 billion.

Between 2000 and 2020, the size of the migrant population abroad grew for nearly all countries and areas of the world. India experienced the largest gain during that period at nearly 10 million, followed — in order of magnitude — by Syria, Venezuela, China and the Philippines.

The US remained by far the largest country of destination of international migrants, with 51 million migrants in 2020 — equal to 18 per cent of the world’s total. Germany hosted the second largest number of migrants worldwide at around 16 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million) and the UK (9 million).

The report said preliminary estimates suggest that Covid-19 pandemic may have slowed the growth in the stock of international migrants by around two million by mid-2020 — 27 per cent less than the growth expected since mid-2019.

The report said growth in the number of international migrants has been robust over the last two decades, reaching 281 million people living outside their country of origin in 2020 — up from 173 million in 2000 and 221 million in 2010. Currently, international migrants represent about 3.6 per cent of the world’s population.

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