Dubai: The Filipino population in the UAE has shrunk by almost 20 per cent, blamed on the high cost of living in the country, the global economic downturn and higher demand for Filipino workers in other countries.
Latest figures released by the Philippines Embassy in Abu Dhabi showed there were 279,602 Filipinos in 2007, well below the estimated 350,000 previously. Filipinos comprise 4.3 per cent of the entire UAE population.
Libran Cabactulan, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News the lower numbers were due to a host of factors.
"There are other areas that are pulling for more Filipinos, like Qatar. The [Filipino] population is rising there. The UAE cost of living is also very high and the rent here is prohibitive. I've had comments from people who say, 'I am just working so I can pay for my apartment' [with no chance to save]," he said.
"There is also increasing demand for health workers in countries like Canada," he added.
He said the global economic downturn might cause the population to decline further as companies seek to downsize and become less likely to hire new people. "I hope it will increase in the future," he said.
The most obvious effect of the economic crisis is on the real estate sector with several companies announcing job cuts, including Damac which has laid off 200 employees and Tameer Holding which is cutting 180 jobs by the end of the year.
Virgie Calvez, labour attache with the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai, told Gulf News a few Filipinos were affected by the real estate company job cuts.
"It's not just Filipinos, all nationalities working in the sector have been affected. [The companies] are just shedding unnecessary staff in sales and marketing," she said.
However, she said the outlook was not all bleak. The companies, while laying off the workers, gave them the option to stay and look for another job.
"There are still employers looking for people, which is evident from a recent jobs fair we held. Our workers are not giving up," she added.
Despite Calvez's optimism, a few have decided to throw in the towel.
Most of us Filipinos are here only to pay the room rent. Saving for the future is impossible.
Posted: December 13, 2008, 11:44
I do not see myself staying and working here in UAE for a long time.
Posted: December 13, 2008, 11:25
I think you will find the main cause of it all being the extremely high costs. What would you expect when you can barely afford to live here.
Posted: December 13, 2008, 09:55
It's quite disappointing to learn many Filipinos were layed off and that my countrymen here in the UAE are declining.The costs are too high.
Posted: December 13, 2008, 09:10
the cost of life is high for most of the Asians living here.
Posted: December 13, 2008, 08:15
I am one of those filipinos who gone back to philippines.It is sad but it's true, the cost of living became so high especially the food that we cannot send anymore enough money for our family.
Reniel Morado Flores
Posted: December 13, 2008, 01:42