Keralites in Abu Dhabi : a study of unskilled and semi-skilled Keralite migrant workers in the city of Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.)
Based on fieldwork carried out mainly in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and partly in Kerala (India), this is a contribution to the study of international labour migration between South Asia and the Middle East. The thesis investigates the process of migration of unskilled and semiskilled workers from the state of Kerala to one location in the United Arab Emirates. The study focuses on the phenomenon of migration as a process; a set of inter-related phases in which no phase can be understood independent of the others. In most studies of labour migration to the Middle East the most important agents in the whole process of migration, the migrants, have often been overlooked. Little research has been done on the impact of migration on the migrants themselves and their dependents left behind in the sending community. The present study focuses on the migrants as the main and most important agents in the process of migration. Migration is a process in which migrants play the major role as actors and decision makers. However, while migrants play a crucial role in the process of decision making, in the process the decisions taken become materialized reality. In creating various strategies to benefit effectively from the alternatives available in the host society, migrants are, nonetheless, confronted with various constraints and restrictions since much decision making in relation to international migration is made on international and national levels. The thesis explores the migrants' role with each of these aspects in mind. The main purpose of the study is to investigate the various factors affecting the decision to migrate as perceived by the migrants themselves, the various methods used to carry out the decisions made, the economic, working and living conditions of the migrants in the host society and the impact of migration on the migrants themselves and their households in the sending community. The findings show that Kinship and friendship networks not only influenced the decision to migrate but they facilitated the migration in all of its phases. Despite the unfavourable conditions under which these migrants were living and working, the impact of migration as perceived by the migrants and their households' members themselves was positive.