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OFWs boost UAE’s economy


A large number of overseas Filipino workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who are professionals and highly skilled workers, are employed in industries and economic activities that fuel the Emirates’ engine of growth and hub of economic activities, a recent study by a communications firm showed.

The study, released on Tuesday by EON Group, showed there are now more than 750,000 Filipino workers across the seven-state UAE, namely Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

“We are very proud of our relationship with the UAE thus far and we continue to be optimistic that our people to people exchanges and our economic ties will even deepen as the years go on,” Paul Raymund Cortes, Philippine consul general in Dubai and Northern Emirates, said.

“Our ties with the UAE are one of our most strategic relationships, be it trade, cultural and human relationship,” he added.

The study, titled Eon Insight: Focus on the Filipino in the UAE, revealed highly skilled Filipinos are now represented across all industries contributing to the country’s economy, with 64 percent of Filipino workers being college graduates and 6.7 percent holding post-graduate degrees.

It is the first ever study into the contribution of the Filipino community in the UAE. The study sought to understand the size, scale and contribution of the UAE’s third largest expatriate demographic.

According to the study, 62 percent of Filipinos surveyed could be found in sectors that are seen to contribute to UAE’s economic diversification and expansion.

The top 5 sectors they work in are architecture, engineering and construction (17 percent); tourism and hospitality (16 percent); customer service (13 percent); health and medical fields (10 percent); and marketing and advertising (8 percent).

An increasing number of Filipino workers are further providing semi-skilled and highly skilled labor, shifting away from low-skilled work areas. In job positions, 46 percent of Filipinos were in associate, supervisory and mid-senior level manager roles, according to the survey.

It also showed 37 percent of Filipinos earn at least AED 8,000 a month or roughly P112,000, with 20 percent earning AED 13,000 a month or P182,000.

Aside from the high demand for their skills, Filipinos workers, with their big salaries, also help boost economic activities in terms of spending habits.

According to the study, Fillipinos are big spenders, with 48 percent going to malls at least once or twice a month; with 45 percent willing to spend up to AED 50 for one meal and 16 percent willing to spend more than AED 80.

It added that the Filipino community in UAE has a long-term commitment, with Filipinos increasingly looking to invest and build deeper interlinked roots in the country.

The survey showed that 41.3 percent of Filipinos have been living in the UAE for two to five years and 37 percent for more than six years, while 31.5 percent plan to stay for another three to five years.

Survey data showed that their home country’s culture plays a key role in shaping Filipinos’ activities in the UAE like spending their free time participating in church activities such as Bible studies and community service programs.

The Filipino weekly Mass, held every Friday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai, sees an average weekly attendance of more than 2,000.

During the Christmas season, simbang gabi (midnight Mass), a Filipino tradition of daily masses over a nine-day period, has attendees between 30,000 and 35,000 per day.

Also, the social media connectivity and positive promotion of the UAE by the Filipino community there has contributed to the country being a top 10 destination for traveling compatriots.

It said Filipinos were an untapped force of marketing in the UAE as they are constantly connected online.

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