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Middle East and North Africa sees fastest expansion of remittances in 2012

Egypt has six-fold increase in remittances over the last eight years

Gulf News

With remittance inflows of an estimated $49 billion in 2012, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region experienced the fastest expansion of remittances in 2012, growing by 14.3 per cent over 2011, World Bank said.

Remittance flows to the Mena region are expected to grow by 5-6 per cent, rising to $58 billion in 2015.

Egypt, which accounted for over 40 per cent of total remittance inflows to the region, has seen a six-fold increase in remittances over the last eight years, making it the largest recipient in the region, ahead of Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia.

“During duress, people tend to share their income more with their nearest ones,” Dilip Ratha, Manager of the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Unit, told Gulf News. “As Egyptian economy is going through a crisis at the moment, its expatriates are remitting more to support their family back home. This explains why fund flows to Egypt has jumped so fast.”

Although Egypt has a large stock of highly skilled expatriates in the US, the UK and Europe, about two-thirds of its migrants are working in oil rich countries within the Mena region.

The oil-rich GCC region is also one of the world’s largest source of remittances that is helping the economies of many countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South-Southeast Asia.

About 45 per cent of the total remittances to India comes from the GCC.

The region is the largest source of remittances to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt, Lebanon, among many other countries, due to high concentration of migrant workers and professionals from these countries.

Although official remittance outflow from the GCC has not been updated in recent years, it is estimated that money transferred by expatriates from across the GCC rose to $82.96 billion last year from $73.69 billion.

“Remittance outflow from Saudi Arabia was about $30 billion,” Sudhir Kumar Shetty, Chief Operating Officer of UAE Exchange Centre, said.

The size of the outflow from the UAE is estimated to be similar.