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Gulf remains dream destination for Indians: NRI industrialist

By T.G. Biju, IANS,

New Delhi : The Dubai World woes notwithstanding, there is no serious impact of economic slowdown in the Middle East, which will remain a dream destination for Indian workers, prominent Gulf-based businessman M.A. Yusuff Ali has said.

“Oil is a major income source in the Middle East. The oil sector is very strong there as prices of oil are improving,” said Ali, managing director of the Emke Group that employs 22,000 people in the Gulf, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Hong Kong, Tanzania and Thailand.

“If something happens to the oil sector, only then it would be true to say that there’s a financial crisis in Gulf countries,” Ali, who is in the capital to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2010, told IANS in an interview.

The Emke Group, which has primary interest in merchandise trade, operates popular brands of retail stores, including the “Lulu” chain of supermarkets, hypermarkets, departmental stores and shopping malls. Over 16,000 of its employees are Indians.

According to Ali, who is also a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council, some companies in Europe with their “opportunistic mindsets” had sought to create panic that the Middle East was hit hard by the global economic meltdown.

“Some companies operating from Europe and the US sacked many employees in the name of recession. They did so as they wanted to re-recruit employees cheap,” said Ali, while admitting that there was some crisis in the construction sector in Dubai.

“But Gulf is and will remain a dream destination for Indians.”

According to Ali, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a patient hearing to the problems faced by Indian workers in Gulf countries during Thursday’s meeting of the advisory council.

“I am happy the prime minister agreed and has announced a welfare fund for Indians in distress,” said the Abu Dhabi-based industrialist, who has been conferred the Padma Shri and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman

He said his counterparts in the Gulf were keen to invest in India and said a suggestion has been made to alow them to pick up stakes in state-run enterprises as and when the government goes for divestment.

About specific investments in India, Ali said his group has invested in a major flight kitchen project at Kozhikode, Kochi and the Thiruvananthapuram airports, in cooperation with the Oberoi group. He also has a stake in the Kochi international airport.

“The work is progressing well.”