Dubai: With large scale layoffs in the Gulf triggered by shelving of mega construction projects touching off panic among Indian workforce, a top diplomat here said they were monitoring the situation closely.
Venu Rajamony, India’s Consul-General in Dubai, said the mission is concerned with the recent developments and they are watching the situation very closely.
His comments come in the backdrop of reports of flights from the Gulf to the Indian sub-continent running full bringing back thousands of retrenched Indian workers.
Rajamony said that airlines are getting bulk bookings over the January-March period, “We expect that about 25,000 people will be going to India. But we don’t yet know whether they are going on leave and will come back and on what terms.”
The number of recruitments of Indian workers has fallen drastically in recent months. “From around 3,500 in January-February of 2008 it has come down to around 250-300 people this year,” he said.
There has been a spate of job losses in recent weeks in Dubai mostly in the construction and banking sectors. According to Morgan Stanley, around $263 billion worth of real estate projects have been delayed or cancelled as the UAE’s property sector has come under the spell of the global financial crisis.
Rajamony said the matter is obviously of concern but there is no need to panic.
“But I don’t think there is any cause for panic as we are prepared to face any eventuality. Most of these workers have been put on long leave so that they can be brought back on a short notice if the situation improves. They want to keep that option open because if they terminate them the visa process becomes more difficult,” he said.
According to the consul-general, things are not so bad, “There are also companies that have projects in other places such as Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi or Qatar where these workers can be re-deployed,” he said.
Almasah International Real Estate, a Dubai-based real estate company, has, for instance, appointed five separate contracting companies to commence foundation and piling work on 10 of its projects with contracts totaling $23.6 million.
Abou Taleb Talebi, the chairman of Almasah, said the current market prices for building materials and the ready availability of a labour force, are positive benefits.
“Our main objective is to move ahead with our projects. We have rescheduled payment plans on these projects for our clients benefit, helping them during these times of crises as we are a humane organization, working alongside our clients for the benefit of all,” he said.