Riyals take wings: With $44bn remittances, KSA leads Gulf states

Riyals take wings: With $44bn remittances, KSA leads Gulf states
Updated 12 June 2015

Riyals take wings: With $44bn remittances, KSA leads Gulf states

Riyals take wings: With $44bn remittances, KSA leads Gulf states

JEDDAH: Foreigners working in the Gulf states sent home more than $100 billion in remittances last year, an economic report showed Tuesday.
The figure was twice as high as remittances in 2010, an indication of strong growth, the head of economic research at Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz), Raghu Mandagoathur, said in the report.
Around 25 million expats live in the six Gulf states — equal to the native population.
The remittances are estimated at 6.2 percent of the combined GDP of the GCC states of $1.6 trillion, the report said, citing IMF and World Bank figures.
In comparison, foreigners in the US and Britain sent home just 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent of GDP, respectively, it said.
Saudi Arabia topped the list with its estimated 10 million expats sending home $44 billion, followed by UAE with $29 billion.
Remittances from Kuwait and Qatar were $12 billion and $9.5 billion, respectively, while smaller transfers were made out of Oman and Bahrain, the report said.
The majority of Gulf expatriates originate from India, Egypt, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Yemen.
The report advised GCC states to encourage expatriates to invest by launching specialized services and opening up their markets to foreign residents, especially the real estate sector. It said: “GCC countries can start opening up their markets to foreigners, especially expats. Real estate is a great example of an untapped opportunity.
“Investment by expatriates should be differentiated from foreign investment, as the former provides a more stable source of investment given the length of time they spend in the region.”
But the toughest obstacle would be reaching out to low-wage workers, who constitute the bulk of remittances, said Raghu Mandagolathur, who authored the report.
An employer engagement strategy can be implemented to tap into this segment, he added.
“Remittances offer a low hanging fruit to GCC governments to implement strategies that can stem and reverse the flow. It is in the long-term interest of GCC countries to reduce at least some of them through proper incentives and investment opportunities,” the report added.