While marketing themselves as luxury playgrounds of tourism and business, close to 90% of UAE and Qatar’s population are foreign workers. Most of these workers come from far poorer nations such as India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nepal, and the workers often endure very difficult employment and living conditions. Many of the workers take up big loans in their home countries to get to the Middle East but then struggle to pay the debt to gain any profits. Often parents will leave their homes and children for a decade or more to try to build up savings for their family back home, putting a significant strain on family relations.
The World Bank estimates that the yearly sum of global remittances (the money being sent home by foreign guest workers) amounts to more than double all official foreign aid globally.
Foreign guest workers, therefore, have a formidable economic impact, but often at a high personal cost.