Many workers Musa in the UAE who earn small but manage to save big
M. Kaliyul Rahman is a waiter at an Indian restaurant in Karama. He earns Dh2,000 a month and more often than not, manages to send all of it to his family back in India. “I hardly spend any money here as my food and accommodation are free and I don’t go out. So whatever I earn, I send to my parents and brother,” said the 23-year-old who came to Dubai in 2013.
A few minutes after he transfers the money through a self-service kiosk at the neighbourhood Wall Street Exchange, Musa, a Bangladeshi office boy, walks in. He makes a remittance of Dh1,500. “This is a monthly ritual for me. I have a large family — five sisters and two brothers besides my parents – and I have been supporting them ever since I came here in 2007,” he said.
Just 29, he takes pride in adding that he has built a house with four rooms for his family. “Out of the Dh2,500 I earn, I pay Dh500 towards my room rent. I get an allowance of Dh300 for my food and an additional Dh250 for my transportation. So most of my income goes home.”
Showing the day
As it turns out, there are many workers like Rahman and Musa in the UAE who earn small but manage to save big. According to money exchanges, low-income workers send a sizeable 80 per cent of their monthly incomes back home, accounting for over three fourths of the total remittances from the UAE.
“Low-ticket remittances (below $400) by blue collar workers, the unsung heroes, account for over 75 per cent of the total number of transactions. On an average, they send 80 per cent of what they earn back home. Blue collar workers send money to their dependents every month unlike white collar workers who wait for a good exchange rate. Although white collar workers clock in fewer transactions, the value is higher as the average size of their remittances is three to four times greater, ” said Sudhesh Giriyan, COO, Xpress Money.
Sultan Al Mahmoud, chief marketing and support services officer at Wall Street Exchange, said: “The average monthly remittance by low income workers is Dh1,200. Some of them who work in the F&B sector or are eligible for incentives and commissions tend to make more than one transfer during the month.”
But the question is do all remittances translate into savings?
Ashwin Shetty, senior vice-president-treasury, UAE Exchange, said: “The money sent by workers is usually for their families’ maintenance. I don’t see them saving all that money. The trend varies, with low income earners from some nationalities spending more than others.”
Workers say it is a question of priorities. Machine operator Yogesh Tulsidas, said: “Everything depends on us..”
The 36-year-old from India’s Tamil Nadu said he manages to save a good portion of his monthly salary of Dh4,000. “My wife and one-and-a-half-year-old child are in Chennai. I send around Dh2,500 home every month, after spending Dh850 on rent, Dh500 on food and a couple of hundreds on my social life.”
He said with the savings accrued from the money he sends home, he has built a two-bedroom house with a hall and kitchen. “I feel proud and happy about it.”
Pakistani driver Hussain, 46, said workers in the UAE make huge sacrifices for the sake of their families. “It is a challenge to make ends meet here and there, especially when there are loans to be repaid. But it is what we put aside from our salaries that helps save the day.”
Given the workers’ job profiles and their need to make regular remittances, money exchanges are going all out to ease matters. “We understand that they have a busy work schedule and are pressed for time. So Wall Street Exchange has introduced 750 self-service kiosks in key locations like labour camps, petrol pumps, hypermarkets and in neighbourhoods to help them make quick transfers,” said Al Mahmoud.
Giriyan said XPRESS Money too has launched several products like cash to card and cash to ATM where the money remitted goes into a card or ATM for pre-registered customers. “We have also made it possible for beneficiaries to collect money instantly from over 170,000 pay-out locations in 150 countries.”