A recent World Bank report on remittances being sent by expats in the Gulf to their home countries has evoked a sharp reaction from a wide spectrum of foreigners living in Saudi Arabia.
Aleem Khan, an engineer from Saudi Arabia, said: “It is good news that expatriates are transferring their hard-earned cash to their homelands.”
Host countries should also take into account that millions of skilled professionals, including engineers and technicians, exchange and share their knowhow and expertise, which is an important investment in the future plans of any country, Khan said.
Abu Ayesha from Pakistan said one solution to keep track of the rising graph of remittances is that Gulf countries should turn only to those countries that provide cheap labor. They should also develop skills and motivate their citizens to undertake jobs, which would reduce dependence on foreign manpower.
“Our money is not illegal cash that we send home clandestinely. It is legitimately earned money and hence it is inappropriate to mention only one side of the story,” Abu Ayesha said. Sohail Malik, who works in Makkah, said such news surfaces from time to time. The Ministry of Finance has recently put a limit on the amount of money that can be remitted.
“I believe expatriates have the right to send money back home,” he said.
The World Bank report showed that nearly 15 million foreigners living in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) send cash remittances in the amount of $74.5 billion (SR279 billion) in 2011, of which the UAE and Saudi Arabia accounted for more than 60 percent. Among the countries that send money home, it said, India tops the list, with more than $29 billion (SR109 billion) in 2011.
“You call us here for our services and then rue the payments you give us in return for the jobs that we do for you. This is unethical, unIslamic and inhumane,” said Othman from Sudan.
Najmi Bahjat in Jeddah said that nobody in this world gives anything for free.
The money we earn, he said, we first spend here on a plethora of necessities. The house rents go to Saudis. The money we spend on purchases and annual renewal of our iqamas goes to state exchequers. The money we spend on food items, clothes and all other essential, luxurious items goes to Saudis, as well as gifts and air tickets. A big slice of our earning remains here by default.
“The expats are not a liability but could be a great asset in motivating Saudi citizens, propping them up and training them to take up jobs even if these are considered lowly or difficult,” said Dilshad Ahmad, a businessman from India.