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Gulf Top Destination for Pakistani Workers in 2019

by Newsweek Pakistan

File Photo. Farooq Naeem—AFP

Data issued by government shows some 95 percent of workers who left Pakistan last year settled in Gulf states

Gulf states last year remained the primary destination of Pakistanis seeking work abroad, with annual data showing over half a million people had opted for these states as compared to the rest of the world.

Compiled by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, the data reveals 539,976 Pakistani workers left the country to seek employment in Gulf Cooperation Council states—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman—comprising almost 95 percent of the 563,018 people who left in 2019.

Additionally, the data shows that Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of Pakistan’s workforce, inducting 294,156 Pakistanis in 2019, as compared to 100,910 a year earlier. This 191 percent growth may well explain why the Gulf kingdom was able to “convince” Islamabad to withdraw from Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Summit.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged to journalists Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had threatened to deport all Pakistani workers and replace them with Bangladeshis if Islamabad attended the summit. Riyadh has denied there was any “pressure.”

Following Saudi Arabia, the second highest importer of Pakistani manpower was the United Arab Emirates, which employed 195,241 Pakistanis. Oman was next with 26,062; Qatar with 17,413; Bahrain with 6,988; and Kuwait with 116.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development said the 563,018 Pakistanis that had been facilitated in 2019 to secure employment in different countries marked a 47 percent over 2018, when 382,439 Pakistanis traveled abroad for overseas employment.

According to a report published in state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, the 563,018 tally comprises 45.5 percent skilled, 39.72 percent unskilled, 10.64 percent semi-skilled, 2.53 percent highly qualified and 1.56 percent highly skilled workers. An official of the ministry further told APP that 217,499 laborers and 161,226 drivers were among the workers who traveled abroad last year.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, has pledged to help expand the number of international opportunities available to Pakistani workers. The government last month inked an agreement with Japan to help provide skilled workers. In addition, APP has reported that he has formally requested Saudi authorities to enhance the number of Pakistani workers in the New Taif City.

The ministry official told APP that efforts were also underway to link up a digital portal with authorities in the U.A.E. to allow direct contact between foreign employers and job seekers.

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