The Nouveaux Riches and the toilers of the Persian Gulf: an analysis of international labour migration from India to the United Arab Emirates - the case of Kerala and Dubai

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Murawski, Janette
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Based on primary and secondary evidence, the purpose of this thesis is to answer why people from Kerala have been migrating to Dubai for work since the early 1970s. Reflecting upon theories of migration and adopting Sassen’s position that any migration stream ought to be examined with precision, it concludes that the Kerala-Dubai migration system is a product of its unique political, economic, sociological, geographic and religious dimensions, bound in historical perspective, that have linked both places together. More specifically, the thesis demonstrates that the Keralite, Dubai, Indian and Emirati governments largely encouraged international migration since the 1970s through specific policies and institutional arrangements. This behavior shifted to a sense of discouragement by the UAE government in the mid 1990s as a result of ‘Emiratization’. The thesis also analyses the Kerala-Dubai migration system through a remittance-led perspective, explores the socio-economic, religious and regional composition of migrants, calculates the stock of Keralites in Dubai, the volume of remittances they send back home, and discusses the future migration relationship between both places. While arguing that conventional ideologies represent a narrow way of thinking about why migrations begin, the thesis demonstrates that migration is more than an act of coming and going; it is about the realities of migrant workers, how they are connected to different places and the historical, political, economic and social elements that link them together.
migration, labour, Kerala, Dubai