Sri Lankan Ambassador to United Arab Emirates (UAE) Malraj de Silva said to Emirates News Agency that many of the Sri Lankans who registered to return to motherland had changed their mind because of the new job opportunities available in UAE.
“Of an estimated 300,000 Sri Lankans here, less than ten per cent of them – around 25,000 – had registered with the Sri Lankan diplomatic missions a few months ago for repatriation. Now, many of them do not want to go as they have started getting new jobs after the economy opened up here,” the Sri Lankan Ambassador told Emirates News Agency, WAM.
When the embassy contacted 2,000 registrants last week, only 547 came forward for seats in repatriation flights arranged by the mission, De Silva revealed.
Most registrants are those who have lost their jobs and many of them want to stay back in UAE because of new jobs or job offers, the Ambassador disclosed.
“Some new jobs may not offer them the same salary they used to get. Still, I have advised them to stay back here. Because the world economy will have a tough time at least for the next two years and we all have to keep our head above water,” the ambassador explained.
Sri Lankan community groups have been helping the community members to find jobs. “I have asked each professional in the community to help at least one compatriot to find a job,” De Silva said.
About the ongoing repatriation process, he said, “We knew from the beginning that a large number of people would not go as they had registered due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. However, with this new trend [people finding new jobs], we now estimate that only around 12,000 [roughly 50 per cent of the total registrants] will have gone by the end of the repatriation mission,” the envoy explained.
Around 5,000 people have already left and an estimated 7,000 people may fly in the coming weeks, said De Silva who took charge as the ambassador in Abu Dhabi in May.
Of 300,000 Sri Lankans in the UAE, almost 100,000 of them are doing white-collar jobs. There are mid-level employees, blue-collar and household workers in the community, he said.
Majority of them – about 220,000 – are living in Dubai and Northern Emirates, and around 80,000 in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
While interacting with skilled workers, he has found that some of their certifications do not meet the requirements in the UAE job market. “I have requested the Sri Lankan government to look into this matter and do the needful to provide the required certifications to Sri Lankans going for overseas jobs,” De Silva revealed.
He wants more Sri Lankan professionals such as doctors, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and shipbuilders to come and find jobs in the UAE.
The UAE is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in the Middle East.