Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are queuing up to remit money home, thanks to a strong UAE dirham vis-a-vis the rupee, which has lowered the cost of money transfer, a study has found.
This was revealed by a white paper commissioned by the Friends Provident International (FPI) and published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
According to a Khaleej Times report Saturday, the white paper and documentary video released by FPI, titled “UAE expatriates and the bottom line”, show the hidden costs that expatriates living and working in Dubai and Abu Dhabi may face.
The survey shows how important financial planning is for expatriates if they want to reap the benefits of working in a tax-free environment, and avoid the pitfalls of hidden costs and high prices.
The findings of a research published last year found that NRIs put aside 70 percent of their disposable income, on an average, for investments and savings.
“Much has been said about the UAE’s many spending temptations and the fact that expatriates are not saving enough for their retirement, or for other important events in their lives. We see that non-resident Indians, be they high or low income earners, have incredible financial discipline and their culture of saving makes them a great case study, highlighting the value of careful financial planning,” said Marcus Gent, managing director, Middle East and rest of the world, FPI.
Much of the money remitted by NRIs is used for family support. India’s less developed pension system, compared with Europe or North America, for example, drives expatriates towards supporting their parents and children rather than starting a retirement plan for themselves. Over 80 percent of Indians in the UAE have between two and five dependents to support, many of those back in India.
Culturally, Indians consider the education of their children and paying for their wedding as fundamental financial planning requirements. Some 90 percent invest heavily in their children’s education.
Remitting money from the UAE to India is less expensive than from other locations. Specialist money transfer firms such as UAE Exchange, Al Ansari, Emirates NBD and Western Union charge fixed fees as low as 15 dirhams on transfers to India and the Philippines.
Gent added: “Earning in dirhams could translate favourably into a comfortable retirement, especially given the current weakness of the Indian rupee. For investment opportunities, India is an attractive prospect for the savvy, better off white collar Indian investor — and remittance and investment flows from the UAE to India clearly confirm a continued and increasing appetite.”
The two million-strong Indian community forms the largest expatriate community in the UAE, and an increasing number of professionals are relocating to the country.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi lists over 40 major Indian companies with offices in the UAE, the majority operating in highly skilled technology or finance sectors.