Abu Dhabi: As Nepalese in the UAE commemorated their National Day on Thursday, it was also an occasion to celebrate their reputation as a law-abiding and peaceful community, a senior diplomat told Gulf News on Wednesday.
“Around 200,000-strong community is growing gradually as many employers in the UAE, especially in the hospitality industry, prefer Nepalese employees,” said Netra Tandan, Charge d’affaires at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The community in the UAE constitutes about 12 per cent of Nepalese migrants across the globe, he said. Nepal is a remittance-based economy with money sent from abroad constituting 25 per cent of its total GDP. The UAE is Nepal’s fourth largest source of remittance income. Although the latest figure was not available with him, the diplomat said Nepalese in the UAE remitted $535.502 million (Dh1965.29 million) to Nepal during 2013-2014 financial year.
Although Nepal commemorates September 20 as the National Day, the embassy and the community are celebrating it at a reception in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening. “This year, it is the third anniversary of adoption of the new Nepalese constitution, which marks the nation’s transformation from a kingdom to a republic, Hinduism to secularism, and from a centralised government to a federal system,” Tandan explained.
The constitution has brought political stability to the nation, which will help create economic and social prosperity, he said.
“We also celebrate excellent relations with the UAE on this occasion,” the diplomat said.
Since the diplomatic relations were established on January 22, 1977, bilateral relations have been steadily progressing. Opening of the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi on April 11, 2004 and the UAE Embassy at Kathmandu on May 10, 2016 further elevated the ties, he said.
High-level visits are taking place frequently. The official visit of Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to the UAE in January 2016 was the most important one. Several top-ranking Nepalese officials also visited the UAE in recent years.
Both nations are negotiating major agreements in certain important areas such as aviation, investments, taxation, recruitment of domestic workers and youth exchange. Once the agreement in aviation sector is signed, the number of flights between Nepal and the UAE will increase further, Tandan said. Currently, 170 flights a week are operated by Etihad Airways, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Nepal Airlines and Himalayan airlines, with passenger movement of more than one million a year, he said.
Although a considerable number of tourists from the UAE are visiting Nepal every year, their exact number is not available. More than 90 per cent of the tourists from the UAE get visa on arrival in Nepal, Tandan said. Nepal offers visa on arrival to citizens of almost all nations except 12 that are some African and Arab nations. “Still the embassy in Abu Dhabi issued 3,831 visas to Nepal during 2013-2016,” Tandon said.
SIDEBAR: Nepalese community organisations
Although about 70 informal associations are active among more than 200,000 Nepalese living across the UAE, two organisations were recently registered with the UAE official bodies, a top Nepalese diplomat said.
“People from almost all 77 districts of Nepal are living in the UAE. Each district [of people] has an informal association that helps and supports each other, especially when someone dies or gets ill,” said Netra Tandan, Charge d’affaires at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Nepalese community members are happy that one of their prominent organisations called ‘We Nepalese’ got registered with the Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai recently, he said. The Nepali Business Council in Dubai has also been recently registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which will help provide platforms for Nepalese business persons to explore investment avenues in the UAE. Nepalese businessmen have been investing in the UAE in different sectors like real estate, travel and tourism, hotels and retail business, Tandon said.
Although Nepalese in the UAE are hailing from all 77 districts in Nepal, more than 50 per cent of them are from a few districts such as Japa, Gulmi, Syangja, Kathmandu Valley [constituting three districts], Chitwan, Dhading and Rupamdehi, he said.
200,000 Nepalese living in the UAE
12% of total Nepalese migrants in the UAE
$535.502 million (Dh1965.29 million) remittances from UAE to Nepal during 2013-2014
170 flights a week between UAE and Nepal
1 million air passengers a year between Nepal and UAE
70 informal organisations among Nepalese in UAE
2 organisations registered with UAE authorities