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Saudi Arabia Becomes Top Destination for Pakistani Workers in 2023

A significant wave of Pakistani migration to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been observed, with over 230,000 individuals moving there in 2023. This makes the UAE the second most popular destination for Pakistani migrants, accounting for 26.77% of the total South Asian migration to the country.

The UAE already hosts a substantial Pakistani expatriate community, numbering 1.7 million residents, making it the second-largest foreign community in the country. This recent influx is largely driven by a lack of job opportunities in Pakistan, especially for skilled professionals like doctors, engineers, and IT specialists. This trend is raising concerns about a potential brain drain, which could significantly impact Pakistan’s future development and growth.

Overall, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region remains the top destination for Pakistani migrants, with 862,625 individuals seeking employment abroad. Saudi Arabia tops the list, welcoming 426,951 Pakistani workers, followed closely by the UAE. Other GCC countries attracting Pakistani workers include Oman (60,046), Qatar (55,112), Bahrain (13,345), and Malaysia (20,905).

As of April 2024, over 13.53 million Pakistanis have officially migrated to more than 50 countries for work. The GCC region, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, accounts for a significant 96% of these overseas employment registrations. These Pakistani migrants play a crucial role in the country’s economy by contributing substantial remittances, which are the second largest source of foreign exchange after exports. This financial support is vital for Pakistan’s economy, helping to stabilize the national currency and support numerous families back home.

The trend of migration highlights the critical need for better employment opportunities within Pakistan to retain its skilled workforce and support sustainable economic growth.

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