Bangladeshis in the Middle East

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Although Bangladesh only came into existence in 1971, the land which is today Bangladesh has strong ties to the Middle East. Bangladeshis in the Middle East form the largest part of the worldwide Bangladeshi diaspora. Out of the 3,975,550 Bangladeshis abroad approximately 2,820,000 live within the Middle East, 0.075% of the Middle East population, with half of them in Saudi Arabia and a quarter of them in the United Arab Emirates. Bangladeshis who come to the Middle East are primarily guest workers or day labourers. Bangladesh is one of the largest labour suppliers to Saudi Arabia, in 2007 Bangladeshi workers obtained the biggest share, with 23.50 per cent of the 1.5 million Saudi Arabia visas issued.

Living conditions[edit]

Migrant labor in the region, from which Bangladeshi citizens form a sizable minority, are brought in through the kafala system, which provides employment-based visas and bars workers from attaining longer-term residency. Like other Asian expatriates, Bangladeshi citizens have sought work in the region primarily to send remittances back to their families and share little in common culturally with their host societies. Although many have additionally been motivated by the proximity to Mecca in hopes of performing the rites of the Hajj, the majority of Muslims from Bangladesh working in the Gulf practice folk Islam that contains elements of Buddhism and Hinduism, in contrast with the more heterodox Wahhabism that has dominated the region since the discovery of oil and the creation of Saudi Arabia.

Human rights organizations continue to report on widespread violations of labor and human rights of migrant workers in the Gulf region. Reported abuses include the confiscation of passports, mobility restrictions, excessive working hours, delayed or absent salary payments, sub par working and living conditions, as well as sexual, physical and psychological abuse of workers by their employers.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kakande, Y., "Where Are Our Passports?", Migrant-Rights.Org, 5 January 2016, available here; Migrant-Rights.Org, "Making Visible the Experiences of Migrant Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia", 3 October 2014, available here; Gardner, A.; Pessoa, Silvia; Diop, Abdoulaye; Al-Ghanim, Kaltham; Trung, Kien Le; Harkness, Laura (2013). "A Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar". Journal of Arabian Studies. 3 (1): 10–11. doi:10.1080/21534764.2013.806076.; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, "Slaving Away: Migrant Labor Exploitation and Human Trafficking in the Gulf", April 2014, available here; Human Rights Watch, "For a Better Life: Migrant Worker Abuse in Bahrain and the Government Reform Agenda", 30 September 2012, available here; Human Rights Watch, "Kuwait: Events of 2015", 27 January 2016, available here; RT, "Deceived migrant workers in UAE forced to work as slaves – report", 26 July 2016, available here; Human Rights Watch, "United Arab Emirates: Trapped, Exploited, Abused", 22 October 2014, available here.