The GCC and the Philippines
The Gulf countries are home to the largest number of Filipinos and Filipinas all as termed in the Philippines as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in arrangements that benefit all sides.
For starters, the Filipino expatriate workers send home billions of dollars and all GCC airlines benefit from them traffic back and forth between the Philippines and the Gulf countries.
As a matter of fact, an estimated 10.5 million Filipinos (as), around 11% of the country’s total population, live and work out of the Philippines generally. One out of every three Filipino homes has a family member working overseas.
In the Gulf states however, the number of the Filipinos were officially estimated at more than 2.2 million by 2012 end that meant that five of the six Gulf countries are on the list of the top 10 destinations for OFWs. Saudi Arabia is their top destination, despite its Saudisation drive. About 1.2 million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, including skilled labourers, nurses and maids. It is followed by the UAE with a figure approaching the million. Back in 2012, Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounted for 20 and 16% of worldwide OFWs, respectively. The UAE is currently home to about a million overseas Filipino workers and has the third highest number of OFWs in the world after the United States and Saudi Arabia. Qatar is in 4th most popular place with some 200,000 Filipinos.
The increasing significance of Gulf countries for Filipinos partly reflects the changing composition of OFWs, with more emphasis placed on household services workers. Much to their credit, OFWS have made the first impression with respect to working habits and ethics. They are appreciated for work ethical traits of productivity, discipline, customer service, and ease of communicating in English. The most attractive character trait is the easy employ-ability and ease of productivity of the female workers.
It is not unfair to claim that Filipinos have emerged as a prevailing factor in local economic activities in all GCC countries. And it can be asserted that life in the GCC cannot be the same without the OFWs on the back of their significant presence in all the different sectors of employment. The main reward and reason behind all the above is that the Philippines received transfers of some $24 billion in remittances in 2012, the third highest worldwide after India and China, according to the World Bank. The amount represents around 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, the GCC autochtonous youth find competing with foreigners (Filipinos and Indians) for jobs ‘difficult’.
According to a new survey by New Perspective Media up to 78 % of the Filipinos living in the UAE intend to buy property in the Philippines within the next two years. That figure is much higher compared to NPM’s 2014 survey, which showed that only 43 per cent of the respondents planned to invest in properties within the same period.
The latest survey also showed that the number of Filipinos who plan to invest in a property within a year rose to 46 per cent compared to 22 % last year.
The International Monetary Fund projects that the Philippine economy could grow by 6.5 per cent this year after posting real gross domestic product growth of 6.1 per cent in 2014.
According to the World Bank, remittances from overseas Filipino workers reached an estimated $28bn in 2014. The Philippines is the fourth largest recipient of official remittances after China, India, and Mexico.
In recent years, Indians and Filipinos are top remitters of hard currency to their respective countries and with regards to the Philippines, many are wondering whether its GDP could hit $1.2T by 2030?