Saudi Arabia continues to be among the most preferred destinations for Indians seeking jobs abroad, resulting in the Gulf kingdom becoming among the highest sources of remittances to India, according to official data. According to figures provided by the Embassy of India in Riyadh, the number of expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia shot up from 3,039,193 in March this year to 3,253,901 in October, a rise of over 200,000 within seven months. They not only comprise blue-collar workers but a growing number of doctors, engineers, oil technologists, IT experts and other technocrats who are increasingly seeking opportunities in the Kingdom’s reforming economy and growing liberal atmosphere for expatriates.

According to Pew Research Center data, India continues to be the top recipient of migrant remittances, with nearly $69 billion coming in in 2015 alone. Of the nearly $69 billion that came into India, Saudi Arabia accounted for over $10.5 billion alone – about a sixth of the total remittances. However, in 2016, remittances to India went down by over $6 billion compared to 2015, brought about by falling oil prices and slow economic growth in the Gulf. But after falling to a low of $25 a barrel last year, oil prices have now gone over $60 a barrel, indicating that the Gulf will remain a primary source of remittances for India with oil-rich Saudi Arabia among the leaders.

The dramatic rise in the number of expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia vindicated the World Bank’s predictions that remittances among countries will rise in 2018 to touch $615 billion. Of this, $460 billion will be received by developing countries, a rise of over $30 billion compared to 2016. According to World Bank estimates, $575 billion in remittances were sent globally in 2016. Of this, $429 billion was received by developing countries such as India.