Abu Dhabi: Many Indonesians said they have never felt homesick or lonely in the UAE because of a vibrant community life.

"Everyone is a member of some group in the community, such as Muslim or Christian associations, or [belong to] badminton, football, martial arts and tennis clubs," Bernard Siagian, 40, a planning coordinator said.

He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the 64th Indonesian Independence Day celebrations at the embassy in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The Indonesian ambassador hoisted the national flag and addressed the community members who attended the celebrations in large numbers.

It was Siagian's first Independence Day celebrations in the UAE as he moved from Saudi Arabia about nine months ago. "Here, the community life is vibrant," said Siagen who had earlier also worked in Oman.


Bastyan Binsar, 39, a pilot, said he never worries about his family while flying all over the world because they enjoy the care and support of compatriots in Abu Dhabi.

The Indonesian ambassador and community members also shared the dream of transforming the country into a developed nation by 2025.

"The country has withstood the global economic downturn. That proves the goal to achieve developed Indonesia by 2025 as announced by the Indonesian president is possible," Mohammad Wahid Supriadi, the ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

During the East Asian economic crisis in 1997, some people predicted the disintegration of Indonesia like Yugoslavia, but the successful elections in 1999 proved that prediction wrong, he said. Peaceful general elections in 2004 and 2009 also strengthened the democratic system and a recent agency survey showed that 79 per cent of Indonesians believed that democracy worked well, he said. Consumer confidence in Indonesia is 113 points, one of the highest in the world, placing the country ahead of India and the Philippines in Asia.

Trade between the UAE and Indonesia grew to $2.18 billion (Dh8 billion) in 2008, a 44 per cent increase from 2007, he said.


75,000 Indonesians in UAE (40,000 in Dubai and 35,000 in Abu Dhabi)
75% are unskilled workers
25% are skilled workers or professionals

Emigration target

Indonesia is restricting the emigration of unskilled workers including housemaids due to an increasing number of job related complaints from them, the Indonesian Ambassador told Gulf News on Monday.

"We target to reverse the present 75:25 ratio of unskilled workers and skilled [or professionals] in the UAE within three years," Mohammad Wahid Supriadi said on the sidelines of Independence Day celebrations.

"The embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai receive at least 100 complaints each a day from housemaids.
Among the 75,000 Indonesians, about 75 per cent are housemaids and the rest of them are skilled workers or professionals, he said. About 35,000 people are in Abu Dhabi and rest are in Dubai.

"We target to change the ratio of skilled and unskilled workers as 50:50 by at least two years. We are trying to reduce the number of housemaids with strict regulations like a higher salary requirement for employers," the ambassador said.