Napali community members at the embassy in Abu Dhabi for various counsellor services. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Nepalese population in the UAE has grown by around 80 per cent during the past ten years, which also tells a story about newly-emerging entrepreneurs in the community.

Predominantly comprising of ordinary workers, the community had a very small number of entrepreneurs until a few years ago.

“However, we were happy to learn from the community leaders recently that the number of Nepalese [small and medium] enterprises across the UAE has gone up to around 1,000 (one thousand),” a top Nepalese diplomat told Gulf News in an interview.

This shows that Nepalese are grabbing the opportunities offered by the UAE and growing, said Sagar Prasad Phuyal, chargé d’affaires at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

According to the latest official figures, around 225,000 Nepalese expatriates are living in the UAE, [compared to around 125,000 in 2008], he said.

Around 100,000 (one hundred thousand) of them live in Dubai, 50,000 (fifty thousand) in Abu Dhabi and rest of them in other five emirates, Phuyal said.

Most of them are ordinary workers in construction, hospitality, farming and security service sectors.

The gradual emergence of small and medium Nepalese enterprises in the UAE is an inspirational trend in the community, the diplomat said. “They run restaurants [mostly Nepalese cuisine and some Indian], facility management, trading and related businesses across the country.”

This growth story proves that the UAE has been a major overseas destination of Nepalese looking for job and business opportunities, Phuyal said.

The air connectivity between Nepal and the UAE has also improved considerably in recent years, he said. When Nepal Airlines, the national carrier, launched daily flights between Dubai and Kathmandu on August 1, the daily flights between both nations have gone up to 12. Himalya Airlines, a private Nepalese carrier, operates two flights a week, the envoy said.

About the UAE-Nepal relations, he said, Nepalese workforce is the key factor now. Although bilateral trade is not significant now, a recent business delegation to Nepal led by the UAE Ministry of Economy has expressed keen interest in investing in organic farming and hydroelectric projects.

The tourist inflow to Nepal from the UAE has also been gradually growing, Phuyal said, although figures were not readily available with him. “People of almost all nationalities [except 11] get a tourist visa-on-arrival.”

The citizens of south-Asian regional grouping [SAARC-South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] can visit Nepal for a month once a year without a visa [except Afghans], Phuyal said.

Figures

80% growth in Nepalese population in 10 years

225,000 — Nepalese population in 2018

1,000 — estimated Nepalese enterprises in UAE

100,000 — Estimated Nepalese population in Dubai in 2018

50,000 — estimated Nepalese population in Abu Dhabi in 2018

125,000 — Nepalese population in the UAE in 2008

12 — daily flights between Nepal and UAE

BOX/ SIDEBAR

A few Nepalese amnesty-seekers approach embassy

Awareness and constant support from embassy help check residency-law violators, envoy says

By Binsal Abdul Kader

Senior Reporter

Abu Dhabi: Only 14 amnesty-seekers approached the Nepalese Embassy on the first day of amnesty [granted by the UAE Government for residency-law violators] and the number was almost the same or less in the consecutive days, a top Nepalese diplomat told Gulf News on Sunday.

“We are prepared to assist any number of people but so far not many people have come forward,” said Sagar Prasad Phuyal, chargé d’affaires at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

He said the embassy and community organisations have been regularly helping people facing problems. “We hope such a support mechanism helps people avoid violating the laws,” he said.

He said still it is too early to make a conclusion about the amnesty seekers’ trend.

The embassy has been issuing around 10 emergency travel documents a month to Nepalese female domestic workers who reach the UAE illegally and seek the embassy’s assistance to go back home.

All Nepalese workers have to get the prior approval from the embassy before leaving Nepal for the UAE. The employers have to get approval from the embassy to their demand letter before recruiting workers from Nepal.

Asked about the reports on workers reaching the UAE through India, bypassing Nepal emigration authorities, Phuyal said Indian emigration authorities generally do not permit it. As the Nepalese Government has taken up this matter with the Indian Government, the Indian emigration authorities will ask the Nepalese travellers to produce the required documents for going abroad, he explained.